Rights to forests and their multiple meanings
Deforestation continues to be one of the most pressing global and local environmental issues. With forests we lose entire species, landscapes and natural habitats. Particularly in the South, logging threatens not only nature but also human cultures and ways of living. The fastest advancement of deforestation takes place in Indonesia. The figures vary, but even as much as one million hectares of forest may be lost every year.
The struggles forest communities lead for their forests do not concern only natural values but also rights to livelihood, way of living and culture. The problems faced by the persecuted forest communities are hardly marginal. In Laos, for example, the majority of the population still lives in subsistence economy in which forests and their produce play an important role. In India, the forest-dwelling Adivasi people are a minority group, but hardly a small one; the forest question directly affects approximately 90 million Adivasis. In Indonesia, the lives of 80-95 million people are directly linked to forests.
Forest communities often face the problem of being themselves blamed for the disappearance of forests. For example, crop-rotation farmers in the mountain regions of India and Southeast Asia have been branded as forest destroyers even though it has only been under pressure from industrial agriculture and large-scale logging that the farmers have been forced to resort to less sustainable uses of land.
The Siemenpuu Foundation advocates environmentally and socially equitable use of forests. Equally crucial is supporting the efforts of indigenous peoples and other forest communities.