Rights to access and use forests

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Image credit: Rights and Resources

Liberians need legal rights to forest, says report

Land rights found to be the best way to prevent deforestation or natural resource exploitation by palm oil firms.

Speed read

  • Forest inhabitants are best at managing these areas, says panel
  • Call to enshrine their rights to access and use forests in international law
  • This will protect natural assets such as trees and scientific resources
The state of roads in Liberia demonstrates one obstacle to using forests for obtaining marketable sustainable goods for rural people in Liberia. - http://environment.yale.edu/gisf/files/road%20in%20Liberia.jpg
The state of roads in Liberia demonstrates one obstacle to using forests for obtaining marketable sustainable goods for rural people in Liberia. – http://environment.yale.edu/gisf/files/road%20in%20Liberia.jpg

Liberia’s government must do more to award land rights to forest dwellers to protect natural resources from exploitation and encroachment of palm oil plantations, warns a report published by a global coalition pushing for forest policy reform.

Forests should be maintained as a future economic resource, says the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) report on Liberia’s palm oil industry. Forests are valuable because of the carbon price of trees and the variety of genetic and scientific resources found in forested land, a panel discussing the report heard.

The panellists said local residents have proven to be the best managers of forest areas, and that their rights to access and use forests must be enshrined in international legislation.

They added that international actors, specifically the World Bank, should push for more stringent land rights and impose tougher standards on the palm oil industry.

“World Bank standards are the starting point for legislation all around the world,” said Andy White, the RRI’s coordinator.

Even if local people retain access to their forests, land rights need to be properly implemented to ensure forest stewards benefit from other types of forest use, the panel heard. This is because pharmaceutical companies increasingly look to African forests to find medical plants and the chemicals found in these plants that can yield innovative medicines and products.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

 

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