Conservation and sustainable use of forest and coastal ecosystems

Conserving the remaining tropical forests and coastal ecosystems is of utmost importance due to the remarkable carbon stocks and unique biodiversity that they hold, livelihood opportunities and cultural basis that they provide, as well as for the intrinsic value of nature itself.

In Indonesia and Brazil alone, despite many positive commitments and measures taken to halt deforestation, about 1.3 million hectares of forests have been lost annually during the recent years. This has mainly been due to logging, conversion of land to pulp and palm oil production, grazing and other anthropogenic stressors. The decrease of carbon stocks bound in peat swamp forests and other tropical rainforests has taken Indonesia and Brazil among the world’s leading carbon dioxide emitters. Halting these emissions is a crucial step in the fight against climate change.

Also coastal ecosystems continue to degrade at an alarming rate. In Indonesia, for example, between 30 and 40% of mangroves and seagrass beds have been lost in recent decades, mainly due to pollution, coastal development, large-scale fish and shrimp farming, destructive fishing methods, land reclamation and sedimentation as a result of deforestation.

This funding scheme builds on Siemenpuu’s previous work in supporting projects by organisations that promote the conservation of tropical forests in the Brazilian Amazon and Indonesia. In both of these countries during the past decades there have been positive policy developments, as forest areas have been designated for conservation and sustainable use by communities. Siemenpuu has supported both advocacy on community based forest governance as well as capacity-building of local Civil Society Organisations and Community Based Organisations working on it.

 

In Brazil, the Amazonian gatherer movement, first identified merely as rubber tappers, started demanding the establishment of gatherer reserves in 1985. In their vision the reserves represented an ecological agrarian reform to provide livelihood for the discriminated, forest dependent population, which would guarantee the conservation of the forest. Today the gatherers still aim to live free of oppression and gain a sustainable livelihood by making use of the Non-Timber Forest Products. Gatherer reserves of distinct categories currently extend to approximately 42 million hectares in the Amazon, but there are land tenure demands by gatherers reaching double the hectares. In addition to the land tenure demands, granting of user permits, development of forest management plans, resolving third party interests and enhancing the gatherer livelihoods are priority demands of the gatherer movement in a national context where environmental concerns are rapidly declining in priority.

In Indonesia, Siemenpuu has supported environmental CSOs in activities related to conservation of carbon-rich peat swamp forests and other rainforests, rights of indigenous peoples and other forest-dependent communities, and sustainable livelihoods since 2003. Much of the support has been directed to campaigning and monitoring work in Riau province in Sumatra, where Siemenpuu’s support has contributed to preserving 1.25 million hectares of peatland forest areas from being logged and converted into plantations.

In other locations in Indonesia, Siemenpuu’s support has been vital in promoting community based forest conservation and management through the utilization of social forestry mechanisms (such as hutan desa and hutan adat), educating and supporting young activists, as well as gaining publicity for diverse issues through media campaigning, short films and other publications. During 2016-2017, support has been targeted also to community based mangrove protection in South Sumatra, West and East Kalimantan and northern Sulawesi through pilot projects. Also a network of CSOs working for mangrove protection has been formed by Forest Watch Indonesia with Siemenpuu’s support.

 

Siemenpuu’s aim is to promote the conservation of forest and coastal ecosystems in ways that are socially sustainable and respect the rights of indigenous and other forest-dependent communities. The general objective is to promote practices and the implementation of laws and policies that prevent deforestation and degradation of natural resources, and which advance community rights to sustainable livelihoods. Apart from tropical rainforests, the importance of peat swamp forests, mangroves, as well as seagrass and coral reef ecosystems are highlighted in the light of global carbon cycles.

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Read more about Siemenpuu's development cooperation programme. This funding scheme is built upon the previous Indonesia programme and Latin America programme. Read here a background article about right to forests.

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