With the help of previous partner organizations, Siemenpuu monitors the forest and indigenous policies in Brazil (Amazon), Indonesia and India. During the previous programme, Siemenpuu supported projects in Nepal in several funding themes.
About 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest is located in Brazil. An estimated 20 percent of the forest has disappeared in half a century. Amazon’s carrying capacity is estimated to collapse no later than when a quarter of it has disappeared. Brazil managed to significantly reduce deforestation in the Amazon – more than 80 percent – between 2004 and 2012.
The positive development turned upside down in 2019, when President Jair Bolsonaro encouraged the clearing of forests into farmland and radically cut the budget of the authorities responsible for environmental control and indigenous affairs, making it difficult for them to act to prevent illegal logging, gold mining and other crimes.
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who took office at the beginning of 2023, has promised to stop deforestation by 2030 and put Brazil back on the world map in the field of climate diplomacy, among other things.
The organisations belonging to the Fórum Amazônia Sustentável demanded in 2022 that the constitutional rights of the traditional peoples and communities of the Amazon should be guaranteed, especially by protecting their territories and respecting the right of self-determination of different peoples.
The forum includes the National Council of Extractivist Populations, CNS, through which Siemenpuu supported for 15 years the mobilisation of gatherer communities in the Amazon Region, their advocacy work and the establishment of gatherer reserves.
It is challenging to estimate the number of protected areas made possible by Siemenpuu’s support due to the fragmented nature of statistic information, but for example, in 2018, four new gatherer reserves were established in the Amazon and one was expanded. Their area is 1.02 million hectares and 13,600 gatherer families benefit from these areas.
On the islands of Indonesia, hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest are lost every year. The reasons for this are primarily deforestation and changing land use for the production of pulp and palm oil. The reduction of the carbon stock tied to peatlands and forests has placed Indonesia among the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitters.
Coastal ecosystems are also deteriorating at an alarming rate: 30-40 percent of mangrove forests and seagrass meadows have been lost in recent decades, primarily due to pollution, construction, destructive fishing methods, and large-scale fish and shrimp farming.
Over the years 2002-2021, Siemenpuu supported Indonesian environmental organisations in the protection of carbon-rich peat swamp and other tropical forests and coastal mangrove forests. The cooperation focused on strengthening community-based forest protection and management, as well as promoting the rights of traditional forest communities and supporting their sustainable livelihoods. A large part of the cooperation focused on Riau province in Sumatra, most recently in the peat swamp forests of the Kampar peninsula, which is the world’s largest peat reserve. The Siemenpuu support helped stop the felling of 1.25 million hectares of peat swamp forests and their conversion into plantation forests.
Siemenpuu’s most important partner in Sumatra has been the Jaringan Kerja Penyelamat Hutan Riau, or Jikalahari network, founded in 2002, currently an umbrella organization of 19 environmental organizations. In December 2022, the partner organizations published the report (pdf, 6.4 MB) Friendship between the North and South – Stories of Those Who Fought to Save Indonesia’s Environment with Siemenpuu from 2002 to 2021 about the Siemenpuu cooperation.
The indigenous peoples of India, or Adivasis, have had to live without recognized and officially registered rights to their places of residence, fields and forests. Since India’s independence, at least 30 million Adivasis have had to be evicted from their own residential areas.
In 2006, the forest rights law The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act came into force in India, the starting point of which was to correct the historical injustice experienced by the Adivasis. However, the implementation of the Forest Rights Act has progressed quite slowly due to, among other things, insufficient resources and the laxity of the forest authorities. Indian organisations carry out advocacy work on the implementation of the Forest Act, and support communities in application processes and in the preparation of forest management plans.
Siemenpuu’s cooperation with the National Adivasi Andolan (NAA) network of adivasi organisations began in 2006 within the framework of the NAA cooperation programme. In the last years of cooperation, 2016-19, Siemenpuu supported almost 20 projects in six Indian states. As a result of the work, almost 18,000 adivasi families were able to register legal rights to their plots of land and 575 village communities were given the rights to manage their common forest areas. 685 village communities drew up a sustainable forest management plan for their land. The projects also supported the revitalization of traditional livelihoods and the skills of traditional healers, and from 2018, the preparation of biocultural protocols (when the projects were transferred under the Biocultural Rights funding scheme).
In the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Siemenpuu supported numerous individual projects between 2002 and 2006, and between 2006 and 2016, through the Tamil Nadu cooperation programme, projects of about 10 organizations related to sustainable and organic farming and the rights of small-scale fisherfolk.
The theme of the projects of the SADED cooperation programme (South Asian Dialogues on Ecological Democracy), which was supported between 2006 and 2019, was the democratization of decision-making regarding natural resources and the promotion of ecological democracy.
The challenges faced by the rural population of Nepal, a landlocked country in South Asia classified as vulnerable, are on the one hand the difficult mountain conditions, on the other hand the increased extreme weather phenomena due to climate change and the resulting crop losses.
Siemenpuu supported the projects of Nepali organisations during 2018-2021 in the funding schemes of biocultural rights, energy justice and just transition. In the last-mentioned theme, Siemenpuu supported SADED-Nepal and a few other projects to democratise decision-making, to strengthen the rights of women and non-caste people, and increase food sovereignty.
In the projects of the bioculture theme, advocacy work was supported for the realisation of the biocultural rights of indigenous peoples. The management plans for community forests were developed so that they take into account the rights of indigenous women, environmental sustainability and the strengthening of the biodiversity of forests.
In the theme of energy justice, Siemenpuu supported both energy policy advocacy work and small-scale energy projects. There is demand for community-based small grids, and due to difficult natural conditions, it is likely that communities in remote areas will never be able to enjoy the services of the state electricity grid.