Mort d’Attoumany Alily, défenseur d’APAC

UN MEMBRE DU FOKONOLONA AYANT PERDU LA VIE DANS L’ACCOMPLISSEMENT DE SON DEVOIR POUR LA CONSERVATION DES RESSOURCES NATURELLES A MADAGASCAR

CLB FIZAMITI Antsahampano

Dans la semaine du 18 Juillet 2016, le Réseau TAFO MIHAAVO (Réseau de « Fokonolona » ou communautés locales gestionnaires de ressources naturelles à Madagascar) a effectué une série de renforcement de capacités de ses membres dans les Régions DIANA et SAVA dans le nord de Madagascar.  Au cours de ces formations, nous avons été choqués d’apprendre la mort d’un des nôtres, Attoumany Alily, assassiné brutalement lors d’une patrouille forestière dans la forêt de Mangroves dont la gestion a été transférée au Fokonolona d’Antsahampano, Ambanja. Le défunt et son équipe ont pris sur le fait dans la forêt des producteurs clandestins de charbon, activité strictement interdite par la loi. Une course poursuite s’en est suivie au cours de laquelle Attoumany Alily a été tué et un autre membre de l’équipe gravement blessé.

En apprenant ce qui s’est passé, les membres de TAFO MIHAAVO présents sont tout de suite descendus au village pour montrer leur respect et leur solidarité envers la famille du disparu et le Fokonolona auquel il appartenait. Ce fut fait pour montrer que les Fokonolona malagasy font partie d’une grande et même famille et que les valeurs telles que « firaisan-kina » (la solidarité), « raharaha ikambanana » (cause commune) et « fifanajana » (respect mutuel) sont encore bien vivant  au sein des Fokonolona.

Des événements similaires ont souvent lieu dans les Fokonolona dans l’accomplissement de leur devoir dans la gestion et la conservation des ressources naturelles et des biens communs (assassinat, exil volontaire pour cause de menace physique et morale, emprisonnement, menace par les forces de l’ordre etc…).

Mais cette solidarité entre les Fokonolona membres de TAFO MIHAAVO a montré :

 –          qu’il faut renforcer la gouvernance des ressources naturelles par les Fokonolona (qu’ils soient reconnus comme les propriétaires légales des ressources naturelles et donc incontournables dans les prises de décisions les concernant)
 –          que les Fokonolona s’engagent et sont fiers de contribuer, parfois au détriment de leur vie, à la conservation des biens communs

 

Nous, TAFO MIHAAVO, demandons aux autorités locales, aux instances régionales et au gouvernement malagasy de reconnaitre les Fokonolona comme acteurs incontournables dans la gouvernance et la gestion durable des ressources naturelles à Madagascar car nous avons déjà démontré à travers nos actions, nos réussites et les terribles événements relatés ici que nous sommes prêts à nous sacrifier pour accomplir notre devoir envers notre pays et nos ressources naturelles communes. Nous remercions déjà les autorités locales et le député du District d’Ambanja de nous avoir appuyés lors de l’enterrement et d’avoir mis en œuvre tous les efforts pour appréhender les assassins. Maintenant nous demandons que justice soit faite !!

VELONA HO AN’NY FIRENENA NY FOKONOLONA MALAGASY !

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2015 sees unprecedented killings of environmental activists

global-witnessGlobal Witness report shines spotlight on the most murderous countries, Brazil and the Philippines

More than three people were killed a week in 2015 defending their land, forests and rivers against destructive industries, according to Global Witness. The organisation’s new report, On Dangerous Ground, documents 185 known deaths worldwide last year – by far the highest annual death toll on record and a 59% increase from 2014. Severe limits on information mean the true numbers are undoubtedly higher.

The deadliest countries for land and environmental defenders in 2015 were Brazil (50 deaths) and the Philippines (33) – record numbers in both countries – followed by Colombia (26), Peru (12), Nicaragua (12) and Democratic Republic of Congo (11). Major drivers were mining (42 deaths), agribusiness (20), logging (15) and hydropower (15).

“As demand for products like minerals, timber and palm oil continues, governments, companies and criminal gangs are seizing land in defiance of the people who live on it,” said Global Witness campaign leader Billy Kyte. “Communities that take a stand are increasingly finding themselves in the firing line of companies’ private security, state forces and a thriving market for contract killers. For every killing we document, many others go unreported. Governments must urgently intervene to stop this spiralling violence.”

On Dangerous Ground sheds light on the particular vulnerability of indigenous people, whose weak land rights and geographic isolation make them frequent targets of land and resource grabbing. In 2015, almost 40% of victims were from indigenous groups.

The father and grandfather of Filipino activist Michelle Campos were publicly executed for defending their ancestral land against mining, for example, in an attack that drove 3,000 indigenous Lumad people from their homes. Rich in coal, nickel and gold, their region of Mindanao is one of the most dangerous in the world for land and environmental activists, with 25 deaths in 2015 alone.

“We get threatened, vilified and killed for standing up to the mining companies on our land and the paramilitaries that protect them,” said Michelle Campos. “My father, grandfather and school teacher were just three of countless victims. We know the murderers – they are still walking free in our community. We are dying and our government does nothing to help us.”

In Brazil meanwhile, the fight to save the Amazon is increasingly a fight against criminal gangs who terrorise local populations at the behest of timber companies and the officials they have corrupted. Isídio Antonio was one of the latest victims. The leader of a smallholder farming community in the state of Maranhão, Isídio had suffered years of death threats for denouncing illegal logging on his land. Police have never investigated his murder.

Thousands of illegal logging camps have sprung up across Brazil’s Amazon, where men armed with machetes and chainsaws cut down valuable Brazilian hardwoods like mahogany, ebony and teak. It’s estimated that 80 % of timber from Brazil is illegali, and accounts for 25% of illegal wood on global marketsii. Much of this is being sold on to buyers in the UK, US, Europe and Chinaiii, and is contributing to one of the world’s highest rates of forest loss.

“The murders that are going unpunished in remote mining villages or deep within rainforests are fuelled by the choices consumers are making on the other side of the world,” said Kyte. “Companies and investors must cut ties with projects that trample over communities’ rights to their land. Our warming climate and growing population mean that pressures on land and natural resources are set to increase. Without urgent intervention the numbers of deaths we’re seeing now will be dwarfed by those in the future.”

 

Global Witness is calling on governments in affected countries to:

  • Increase protection for land and environmental activists at risk of violence, intimidation or threats
  • Investigate crimes, including their corporate and political masterminds as well as the triggermen, and bring perpetrators to justice
  • Support activists’ right to say no to projects on their land, and ensure that companies are proactively seeking their consent
  • Resolve the underlying causes of violence against defenders, by formally recognising communities’ rights to their land, and tackling the corruption and illegalities that blight natural resource sectors

/ENDS

For interviews, briefings in English and Spanish and other information please contact: Billy Kyte +44 (0)7703 671308  bkyte@globalwitness.org

Alice Harrison +44 (0)7841 338792  aharrison@globalwitness.org

 

Notes to editors:

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STOP land grabbing threath in the last old growth forests of Finnish Lapland and the Sámi home area

21st March, 20162016-03-21 10_52_08-[Fwd_ Urgent letter from the Saami leadership] - emma.courtine@gmail.com - Gmail

To Whom It May Concern:

The State Forest Agency “Metsähallitus” About to Seize
Total Control of
Sámi Indigenous Key Old Growth Forests For Economic Uses If New Law Passes
in Finland: Moratorium Is Needed At
Once

An unprecendented land grab threathens the last old growth forests of
Finnish Lapland and the Sámi home area if the new Forestry Act legislation
passes in the Finnish Parliament next week. Both Indigenous Sámi leaders
and Arctic scientists are concerned about the proposed new reforms. All of
the Sámi reindeer herding cooperatives oppose this law. 130,000 people
have petitioned the parliament to stop this Forestry Act in its current
form.

This crisis happens in a context where the previous government failed to
ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Now the
current government in Finland is moving fast to completely wreck the
existing rights of the only Indigenous people of EU. Sámi areas, including
large tracts of north boreal old growth forests will be opened to a range
of economic uses. Territory being affected includes hundreds of thousands
of hectares of the Sub-Arctic and North Boreal areas of Finland. It
constitutes the last preserved wilderness of Europe. Future new threats
include for example construction of railroads and other large-scale
infrastructure projects in addition to forestry impacts.

The new imminent Forestry Act no longer requires Metsähallitus, the
state-run enterprise which controls these areas, to clarify to the Sámi
Parliament and the Skolt Sámi Village Council what impact the land
management shakeup would have on indigenous people’s lives. Preparation of
this Act has not reflected Free, Prior and Informed Consent – FPIC.

There is an urgent need to ensure that Metsähallitus does not undermine
present or future opportunities to practice and foster Sámi culture. The
new Act needs to include clauses that provide a protective zone and
mechanisms to the Sámi. These are missing from the existing legal
proposal. In Sámi home area 90 percent of the land is owned by the state
via Metsähallitus.

President of the Finnish Section of the Saami Council , Jouni Lukkari says
that: ”Sámi reindeer herding and the Sámi way of life are in danger of
disappearing if the new Forestry Act legislation passes in the Finnish
Parliament. In this case we will have few opportunities to influence the
decision making over our lands. Rather, our territories will be controlled
by market economy values.”

Tero Mustonen, scientist from the Snowchange Cooperative , and one of the
Lead Authors of the governmental Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA) of
the Arctic Council, quotes the report on Indigenous knowledge: “Arctic
peoples have thrived in a harsh environment for millennia, in no small
part because they have acquired a great depth of knowledge about the land
and waters of their homelands and the species that live there, which
provide food, clothing and meaning to Arctic cultures. This traditional
ecological knowledge is increasingly recognized as an important source of
information for, among other things, understanding Arctic biodiversity and
developing effective strategies to conserve that biodiversity, including
indigenous ways of life.”

Furthermore, Mustonen says that: “In this period of rapid climate change
in the Arctic it is imperative that these northern ecosystems are
preserved intact – they are central to the Indigenous peoples’ survival
and a source of their knowledge in this new reality. Forestry Act in its
current form would cause severe, negative impacts to the Sámi society as
we know it.”

Therefore there is an urgent need to stop the current form of Forestry Act
from proceeding further. However, should the Act to proceed in the Finnish
Parliament next week, the Sámi demand a full moratorium on all state
forestry and infrastructure actions inside the Sámi Home Area until such a
time that the Indigenous rights of the area can be jointly agreed on. A
land use and occupancy mapping of the Sámi Land Use in accordance with
international standards should be enacted to document the historical and
contemporary land and water rights of the Sámi.

For further information, please contact on the Sámi statements President
of the Finnish Section of the Saami Council, Jouni Lukkari at
jouni.lukkari@gmail.com and on the scientific implications of the Forestry
Act in the Sámi Home Area Ph D Tero Mustonen at tero@snowchange.org

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A threatening Cross River Superhighway in Nigeria

Should the Cross River Superhighway be allowed to destroys the forest and lives of the Ekuri people and thousands others ?

Written by Tunde Morakinyo (Independent, former WWF community forester living in Ekuri communities),  Robert Dunn (Independent, former ODA forester working with Ekuri communities), Martins Egot (Ekuri Initiative), Edwin Ogar (WATER, NGO affiliated with Ekuri Initiative).

*Please find constant updates on this dedicated webpage: Save Ekuri Forest!*

 

The unique Ekuri people and the precious Cross River rainforests

The people of Ekuri live in Cross River State, deep in the heart of one of Nigeria’s last surviving rainforests. Their forest is sandwiched by the Ukpon forest reserve to the north and Cross River National Park to the east and south and to the west by the Iko Esai community forest. Their rainforests are spectacular and are home to a number of rare and endangered wildlife species including Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee, some of the last forest elephants in West Africa and forest buffalo. However, all of this is about to disappear forever due to the construction of the Cross River State Superhighway which will destroy the ancestral lands and forests of the Ekuri people and thousands of others along the proposed 260 km route.

The villages of Old Ekuri and New Ekuri (popularly called the “Ekuri Community”) are located in Akamkpa LGA, in the buffer zone of Cross River National Park. These are two of only five villages in the whole world that speak the Lokoli language. These two villages between them jointly own 33,600 ha of community forest. This is probably the largest community owned forest in all of West Africa. For hundreds of years, the Ekuri people have relied completely on their ancestral lands and forests for everything. The forest provides the people with fruits, vegetables and a wide range of other valuable forest products. It also provides fertile farmland, their medicines and shapes their unique culture, language, and identity.

protest 3

These forests are so important to the Ekuri people that in the early 1990s when they were approached by two logging companies offering to build them a road in exchange for logging their forest, they said “No”. Instead they asked the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature and the UK’s Overseas Development Administration (now the Department for International Development (DFID)), to help them set up a forest management organisation called the Ekuri Initiative. This community-run body has been instrumental in managing the Ekuri forests and also successfully brought development benefits to their villages including the construction of a 30 km road to the villages and the establishment of a health centre. This was so successful that in 2004, the Ekuri Community received the highly prestigious Equator Initiative Award from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for their outstanding contribution to biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction.

The forests of CRS are globally recognised for their international importance as one of the richest sites for biodiversity in Africa. The World Wide Fund for Nature and other NGOs have documented the fact that they harbour an enormous diversity of plant and animal species almost unmatched anywhere else in the world. In recognition of this, the UK government invested millions of pounds into the Cross River State Forestry Department in the 1990s. WWF also invested millions of pounds into the establishment of Cross River National Park over a period of 7 years. More recently, the UN established the UN-REDD programme in Nigeria with Cross River State as the first pilot state in which to establish structures to channel carbon credit funds from the world to reward the State for actions to protect these globally important forests. It is hoped to expand this programme across Nigeria.

But now this forest and the entire Ekuri way of life, is threatened with destruction.

 

Follow this link to watch a video of the begining of the Etara forest clearance: https://youtu.be/8Q4oa_cFmzA

Outcry after highway route announced but launched by President Buhari eventually

Last year, the newly elected Governor of Cross River State, Senator Ben Ayade announced the construction of a 260 km superhighway to go from a planned deep sea port in Esighi in Bakassi Local Government Area northwards via Obudu to Katsina-ala in Benue State. The superhighway was to be toll road to be built at the cost of US$3.5 billion and was to be constructed by a company called Broad Spectrum Industrial Services Limited (BSIS) who are based either in Israel, Germany or Port Harcourt depending on various newspaper articles.

When a map was released by the state government showing the proposed route of the superhighway, it showed it passing through the mountainous Oban Division of Cross River National Park. Besides the fact that the proposed route was going to cause untold damage to the globally important park, it also demonstrated that the route had been selected without looking at a contour map, let alone having an engineering survey!

This led to an outcry from the National Park authorities, the Federal Ministry of Environment and many Nigerian and international NGOs. The NGO community was so outraged by the threat of the superhighway to the National Park and to the forest communities that they got together to write a letter to the Governor.   The letter dated 20th October 2015, was written and signed by the Friends of the Earth Nigeria (FoEN), Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Birdlife International, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Heinrich Boell Foundation and was copied to President Buhari and the Federal Minister of Environment. These letters received no reply.

Nevertheless as a result of the outcry from various quarters, the Governor then directed that the road should pass around the park. When the highway was first announced, the Governor had made it clear that he wanted the President to flag off the construction. Due to the outcry, President Buhari initially decided not to open the superhighway. However, once the road was diverted around the Park, this seems to have allayed his fears and he eventually visited Cross River State to launch the superhighway on the 20th October 2015.

 

The route was still far from ideal, so questions started to be asked

While the route around the National Park was a better outcome than the initial route, it was clear that the road still passed too close to its boundary and right through the Ekuri forests and protected forest reserves. It is well known that any road can open up a trail of destruction in the form of logging, hunting and farming and soon the forest within at least 5km of any road is totally destroyed. So it was clear that the road, even with the new route, would still cause huge damage and destruction to the National Park and the forest communities it passed through including the 33,600 ha Ekuri forest.

At this point, people in Cross River State began to ask questions about the superhighway:

What kind of company is Broad Spectrum Industries Limited? Many efforts have been made to investigate the background of the Company to find out what its track record was in highway and infrastructure construction. However, its website indicates that the Company, based in Port Harcourt, is relatively new and has no experience in road or port construction. How could such a huge project of this nature be handled by a company that no one has heard of before? Who is on the Board of the Company, what are its credentials and what was really its interest in the project?

Questions around the funding and the economics of the project: It was alleged in the press at the time, that BSIS was going to invest 700 billion Naira (US$3.5 billion) in the deep sea port and superhighway. However, it is unclear where this staggering sum of money is meant to be coming from. It was rumoured that the funds were potentially coming from Germany or the UK or Israel but all efforts to find out more about the alleged funding for the superhighway construction project have proved futile. There are also reports of contributions from Heritage, Skye and Zenith banks. Do the funds for the construction of the highway actually exist? What kind of company would spend US$3.5 Billion on the construction of a port/superhighway if the port will only pay back US$30 million a year? This would thus take over 100 years to pay back and that’s not including a discount rate! What kind of company would invest such large sums of money with such bad returns? There has been no transparency on this aspect of the Project.

Questions about the engineering feasibility of the Project: It is notable that there do not seem to have been any engineering studies carried out to inform the design of the Project. If there have been engineering studies, they have also been kept secret. The communities along the proposed route all attest that there have been no engineers surveying on the ground. Without such surveys how can one even determine the cost of the superhighway? How would one know, for example, how many substantial bridges are required or how many millions of tons of rock and soil have to be moved to pass through the hilly terrain? However, it is clear from contour maps that the terrain of the proposed route passes though some of the hilliest terrain in the entire country. This is slightly better than the mountainous route that was originally proposed through the heart of the National Park but such lack of basic research calls into questions the seriousness of the actual plan to build such a highway. How can a scheme of this size not be based on any field-based engineering surveys?

Why has there been no Environmental Impact Assessment or public consultation on the route? The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Act of 1992 specifies that any construction project that is likely to have a significant impact on the environment or on people MUST have an EIA carried out and must receive an environmental permit from the Federal Ministry of Environment (FMEnv) BEFORE forest clearance works of any sort take place. Such an EIA must involve documented consultation meetings with a wide range of affected stakeholders before the final project design is concluded and approved. So, given the huge impact this Project will have on one of Nigeria’s last surviving rainforests and the impact on the lives of thousands of people, how can such a scheme go ahead without an EIA which is made publicly available?   If an EIA has been carried out who was consulted? Certainly none of the many communities or environmental NGOs have been consulted about the route. Reports from the villages say the superhighway construction has been awarded to several local contractors who are able to hire bulldozers. The local contractors have been apportioned 10 km each to bulldoze. How can clearance of the forests for the route commence be allowed without an EIA permit from the Federal Government?

Why not upgrade the existing Calabar-Ikom-Obudu highway? The existing Federal Highway from Calabar through Ikom to Obudu already serves all the purposes that the government wants the super highway to achieve. It links Calabar with Benue State and provides the route for trade. Communities and trade routes already exist around this road, whilst the super highway would necessitate new feeder roads, which would cut more into the rain forest. Furthermore this would be much less costly and will do far less damage to the State’s forests and communities.

The announcement in the newspapers of the 20km revocation of land rights

For a number of months after President Buhari launched the superhighway, everything went quiet and it was suspected that the highway might no longer happen. Then on 22nd January in ‘The Weekend Chronicle’, the State Government announced that a 20km setback of land would be compulsorily acquired by the Government “in the over-riding public interest” along the entire 260 km Right of Way from Bakassi to Katsina-ala (see map)!

As one an imagine, the forest communities were absolutely horrified to read this. The Ekuri people immediately knew that the superhighway would rip through the heart of their forest, opening it up to farming, logging and hunting on a massive scale. It was shocking that, in this unprecedented massive land grab, the Governor has seized all the ancestral land of thousands of forest dependent villagers, for 10 km either side of the 260 km superhighway.   This now means that all the forest communities along the superhighway route including the Old and New Ekuri are effectively landless and homeless!

 

A new Campaign has now kicked off to stop the superhighway construction

On the 7th February 2016, the Ekuri people wrote to the Governor of Cross River State, copying President Buhari and the Federal Minister for Environment, demanding that the construction of the superhighway be stopped until a new route could be found and they made it clear they would protect their forests through determined non-violent protests. The letter was copied to a wide range of organisations including the UN, British Government, Norwegian Government, and many national and international NGOs. This letter was successfully delivered but, to date, there has been no reply from the Governor or Federal Government. This letter was followed by another to the Governor this time written by the neighbouring village of Okokori also copied to same recipients but again there has been no reply from the government.

At the same time, an international internet petition has been launched around the world demanding that the superhighway be stopped and that a new route can be found that will not cause incredible destruction to the forests of the State and to the lives of thousands of people. The campaign has already received hundreds of signatures and is directed at President Buhari, Cross State Governor Ben Ayade and Federal Minister for Environment, Amina Mohammed. Website: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/The_Governor_of_Cross_River_State_Nigeria_and_Minister_of_Environment_Stop_the_construction_of_the_Cross_River_State_Sup/edit/

 

But it is worrying to report that the forest destruction has already started

In spite of all the letter-writing and campaigns, it is terrible to report that at this very moment, the bulldozers are heading to Ekuri to start ripping up the forests. The Ekuri community have already told to two bulldozers to leave until the government responds to their letter, but who knows how long they can hold off the destruction? Technically, according to the law, their land has been seized by Government and they are already homeless. We have just heard that that two the bulldozers that left Ekuri are now working in Etara/Eyeying, neighbouring communities of Ekuri, destroying farms and forest. There women and children are lamenting over their lost farms but the bulldozers carry on. Apparently the two bulldozers are working in different directions, one towards Ekuri and the other towards Okuni. The people are absolutely helpless. Why hasn’t the Federal Government stepped in to stop this destruction?

With the international campaign, governments around the world have started asking questions. This comes at a bad time for Nigeria struggling with the fall in oil prices and the country needs all the international financial support it can get. It also makes the government look bad at a time when Nigeria is supposed to be stamping out corruption. Who has ever heard of a road project of this scale, passing through some of the most sensitive rainforests on the planet, threatening the lives of thousands without an EIA permit? How can this be allowed to happen in our so-called ‘democratic’ Nigeria?

 

The Ekuri people and concerned stakeholders are calling on the Federal Government to:

  • Suspend immediately all forest logging and clearance already commenced without an EIA permit from the Federal Ministry of Environment of Nigeria and rescind the related revocation of community land along the superhighway Right of Way.
  • Examine all alternative routes for the so-called “super-highway” that avoids destruction of the Ekuri community forests and other forested parts of Cross River State.
  • Carry out a thoroughly participatory and transparent review of the ecological, socio-cultural, economic, financial and reputational impacts of the so-called “super-highway” before it precipitates a man-made disaster for Cross River State and Nigeria.

 

 

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World’s Rarest Antelope Flourishes Under Community Conservation

antilop

Community conservation efforts in northern Kenya are bringing back the world’s most endangered antelope from the edge of extinction – numbers of hirola in the Ishaqbini Hirola Sanctuary have doubled in just 3 and-a-half years.

Monday, February 22nd, 2016
For Immediate ReleaseSophie Harrison
sophie.harrison@nrt-kenya.org
+ 254 / 719 187 324

(Garissa – Kenya) – Most people have never heard of the hirola. The fawn coloured antelope is a shy animal, with a long thin face and spectacled eyes. And yet this unassuming creature is the centre of what may be one of the most successful conservation efforts in recent history. And the heroes – the equally unassuming Somali pastoralists who live alongside them on the East bank of the Tana River.

The Abdullah Somali community that run the Ishaqbini Conservancy in north-east Kenya have always had a fondness for the hirola, whose docile nature has earned it the nickname of ‘the stupid antelope’ in other communities. It is endemic to north-east Kenya and south-west Somalia, but populations have declined by over 80% since 1990. Numerous factors, including disease, hunting and loss of grasslands, have contributed to this.

Ishaqbini is part of a network of 33 community conservancies in northern Kenya, operating under the umbrella of the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT). Together they are managing over 44,000 km² of land, stretching from the Indian Ocean to the Great Rift Valley. Not only are they conserving wildlife, but they are securing peace and building resilient livelihoods for rural communities on the back of it.

Sourcing the funding and support they needed through Northern Rangelands Trust, the Kenya Wildlife Service and others, the Ishaqbini community built a 3,000 hectare, predator-proof enclosure in an attempt to protect the last remaining hirola in their area. In August 2012, 48 hirola were herded up from surrounding areas and moved into the sanctuary. This was the first fenced sanctuary on community land in Kenya dedicated for the conservation of a critically endangered species.

The Ishaqbini Conservancy team raised awareness about the plight of the hirola amongst the local people, and dedicated conservancy rangers to anti-poaching patrols outside the sanctuary and full time monitoring of individual hirola herds in the sanctuary. Through NRT, they had access to expert scientific advice to help them shape their conservation and management strategies. But not even they could have predicted the impact these efforts would have.

In January 2016, an aerial and ground survey revealed just how much their hard work has paid off. An estimated 97 hirola were found within the Sanctuary, and several heavily pregnant females promise to bring this number into the hundreds very soon. From an initial population of just 48, hirola numbers have doubled in just three and a half years.

“The 50% increase in hirola numbers epitomises the opportunity and strength of the growing community conservation movement across Kenya,” says NRT’s Director of Conservation, Ian Craig. “The future of Kenya’s wildlife is inextricably linked with the development of the communities that live with wildlife. Kenya’s community conservancies are widely recognised across the world as one of the most innovative models in Africa empowering people to make informed decisions about management of their land whilst benefitting from wildlife and accessing new and alternative income.”

NRT member conservancies are managed by democratically elected boards and staffed by local people, often mixing ethnic groups that have historically fought with one another. Although the conservancies are still dependent on donor funds, they raise increasingly large sums from commercial activities related to conservation (through NRT Trading Ltd.), from County governments and from tourism. The profits are being channelled into education, health care and development activities.

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The Northern Rangelands Trust is an umbrella organisation that aims to establish resilient community conservancies that transform lives, secure peace, and conserve natural resources. There are now 33 NRT-member community conservancies across northern and coastal Kenya, home to over 300,000 people who are managing over 42,000 square kilometres of land and safeguarding a wide range of species and habitats. NRT is now widely seen as a model of how to support community conservancies, and its success has helped shape new government regulations on establishing, registering and managing community conservancies in Kenya. www.nrt-kenya.org

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Destructive biofuels and wood-based biomass out of next Renewable Energy Directive say 115 organisations to EU renewables consultation

forest clearing for oil palm in the Philippines

forest clearing in the Philippines

Campaigners say: False solutions to climate change do not cut emissions but damage land and livelihoods in other countries

 

10th February 2016 – 115 civil society organisations and networks from across the globe have published a declaration today, calling for bioenergy to be excluded from the next EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) [1]. The declaration is being submitted to a consultation into the renewal of the directive for 2020 onwards [2].

 

The EU intends industrial bioenergy, i.e. biofuels and wood-based biomass, to continue playing a major part in its new renewable energy strategy. Campaigners say this will exacerbate the grave impacts already being experienced because of current support for biofuels and wood-based bioenergy in the EU. Bioenergy already accounts for around two-thirds of energy classed as renewable in the EU.

 

Industrial bioenergy is not renewable

The central premise of the declaration is that bioenergy should not be classed and supported as renewable energy, contrary to current EU definitions. Campaigners point to growing evidence that industrial bioenergy is not renewable because it is not replenished as quickly as it is consumed. Worse still, carbon emissions from burning biomass for energy are often greater than the emissions from the fossil fuels they are supposed to replace.

 

Devastating impacts of large-scale bioenergy on people, forests, climate

The declaration sets out a powerful case for the exclusion of all forms of bioenergy from the new legislation, citing numerous examples of the harm that current EU bioenergy policy has done to people, forests and the climate.

 

“The devastating direct and indirect impacts of large-scale bioenergy must be fully recognised and reflected in the new RED” said Teresa Perez from the World Rainforest Movement [3]. “We’ve joined with 115 other groups to send a strong signal to the EU that it must change its mind on bioenergy or risk doing far more harm than good. It’s clear that support for bioenergy in the EU is directly impacting forests internationally and the people that depend on them, promoting industrial tree plantations, as well as incentivising even greater carbon emissions.”

 

Peer-reviewed studies and on-the-ground investigations show how industrial-scale bioenergy is not renewable [4]. Instead, it results in significant carbon emissions and fuels the destruction of biodiverse forests from North America to South-east Asia and Europe itself, which are vital carbon sinks. Biofuels in particular have become a major driver for land-grabbing in the global South and are, in many cases, linked to serious violations of land and labour rights.

 

Standards and sustainability criteria will not address the problem

Signatories of the declaration dismiss policy-makers claim that sustainability standards for bioenergy can mitigate potential negative impacts. Helena Paul from Econexus in the UK [5] states: “Standards and certification cannot address the fundamental issues of the scale of demand, and the scale of exploitation. Instead, certification helps to legitimise the destructive and exploitative practices by providing false reassurances. No regulatory body exists in the EU or elsewhere which has the capacity to verify, audit and sanction bioenergy supply chains.”

 

ENDS

 

Contacts:

Helena Paul (Econexus), UK: ++44 (0) 7724 711183

Teresa Perez (World Rainforest Movement), Uruguay, ++ 598 2605 69 43, teresap@wrm.org.uy

Almuth Ernsting (Biofuelwatch), UK: ++44 (131) 6232600, Biofuelwatch@ymail.com

 

Notes to editors:

 [1] The declaration can be found at www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2016/BioenergyOut-declaration

[2] The consultation, which closes today, 10th February, can be found at https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/consultations/preparation-new-renewable-energy-directive-period-after-2020 .

[3] http://wrm.org.uy/

[4] Prior to the declaration, seven organisations published an evidence-based background briefing: Bioenergy Out: Why bioenergy should not be included in the next EU Renewable Energy Directive: http://wrm.org.uy/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Why_bioenergy_should_not_be_included_in_the_next_EU_Renewable_Energy.pdf

[5] http://econexus.info/

 

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Human Rights groups call for palm oil moratorium in Palawan, Philippines

11 November, 2015

***Press Information for Immediate Release: 11th November 2015***

Human Rights groups call for palm oil moratorium in Palawan, Philippines: End land grabs and forest destruction now!

Puerto Princesa: 11th November 2015

A recent fact-finding mission by regional human rights groups in the south-western island of Palawan, the last ecological frontier of the Philippines, has revealed a pattern of land grabs and forest destruction by palm oil companies, partly owned by Malaysian and Singaporean investors.

Forest clearing for palm oil in Palawan

Forest clearing for palm oil in Palawan

 

Motalib Kimel, Chairman of the local Coalition Against Land Grabbing (CALG) and himself a Taganua leader from Palawan, said:

‘The palm oil company AGUMIL is taking over our indigenous peoples’ lands through forced and fraudulent land sales. It is quite contrary to national laws. We are losing our lands and our livelihoods. We are calling on the Philippines Government to uphold our rights.’

The appeal was taken up by a regional team of human rights experts, attending the 5th South East Asian Regional Conference on Human Rights and Agribusiness, some of whom visited the affected villages and heard testimony from the farmers and indigenous peoples.

Josie Rodriguez, Regional Coordinator of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples said:

‘The company has been taking land without the mandatory Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the indigenous peoples and without our involvement as required by law. In view of these violations NCIP has the power to issue a restraining order upon filing of complaints by indigenous impacted communities, in order to halt the company’s operations while the case is dealt with by the courts.’

The fact-finding team found that AGUMIL, and other oil palm companies, have been acquiring lands contrary to community wishes and in violation of their rights, with the alleged complicity of local government officials. The land grabs are depriving the indigenous communities of their food security, dislocating them from their culture, and driving them into further poverty.

John Mart Salunday, a board member of CALG and President of NATRIPAL, the federation of indigenous peoples in Palwan, said:

‘It is like people in the impacted oil palm communities are dying little by little because they no longer have the plants needed to cure themselves. Before they only walked half an hour to get the raw material for building their houses, for their artifacts and medicinal plants.  Now they have to walk half a day to the other side of the mountain before they can find the plants they need.’

Forests are being cleared contrary to law. In some areas, AGUMIL’s managed cooperatives have imposed unexplained and heavy debts on communities and these debts are being maintained in ways resembling debt slavery. Welly Mandi, CALG’s secretary, says:

‘We are being strangled by huge debts with both Agumil and the LandBank [the key financier of oil palm development], and our land titles are being withheld by the bank  as collateral.’

batak children with rice.jpg

Batak Children seeing their land being threatened by intensive oil palm plantation

Moreover, AGUMIL and other oil palm enterprises have bypassed with impunity regulations of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and those relating to Strategic Environment Plans (SEP), and have only obtained environmental clearance for their seedling nursery and oil mill area but not for the 7,000 hectares so far converted into oil palm plantations.

Marcus Colchester, Senior Policy Advisor of the Forest Peoples Programme which co-convened the conference along with CALG and the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines noted:

‘Having reviewed some of the available documents and official maps, it seems clear that local officials of the DENR are implicated in this process. Tragically we find such cases all through South East Asia where oil palm expansion is occurring. The Philippines has some of the best laws in the region that protect indigenous peoples’ rights but they are being ignored by local officials.’

-ENDS-

For conference resolution see: http://www.forestpeoples.org/topics/agribusiness/news/2015/11/oil-palm-l…

For further background information: https://www.facebook.com/Coalition-Against-Land-Grabbing-CALG-4119756190…

For recent local TV bulletin see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lY3TKHCf4OY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQyIiaok_4s

See also: http://news.mongabay.com/2015/10/broken-promises-communities-on-philippi…


Press Contacts
:

Marivic Bero,  Coalition Against Land Grabbing – calgpalawan@gmail.com
Marcus Colchester, Senior Policy Advisor, Forest Peoples Programme – marcus@forestpeoples.org Tel: + 4407952 943481
James Harvey, Communications Manager, Forest Peoples Programme– fppjames@gn.apc.org Tel: + 44 7531 900395

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