A new report released today highlights how forest dependent communities in Cross River State, southeast Nigeria, are losing rights and livelihoods, as their forests are being locked down by the government, which seeks cash through a United Nations backed ‘carbon trading’ scheme, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).
The report, ‘Seeing REDD: Communities, Forests and Carbon trading in Nigeria’, by Nigerian organisation, Social Action, was presented today in Lima, Peru at an event at the People’s Summit on Climate Change, which coincides with the 20th Conference of Parties (COP20) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in the Peruvian capital city.
The report shows how the implementation of the REDD+ mechanism is having a devastating effect on the economies of affected communities around the Cross River forests. With neither adequate consultation nor alternative livelihood options, community members, who have depended on the forests for generations, are now being victimised by government agents following a ban imposed on economic and cultural activities in the delineated forests. Thus, REDD+ has restricted access to forests where indigenous communities gather food, medicine and energy. Local nutrition and livelihoods are seriously threatened and the attendant scarcity of food products caused by government’s actions have led to increase in the prices of basic food products. Ironically, higher wood prices, occasioned by REDD+, is encouraging illegal logging in the forests.
The report shows how communities are grappling with being implicated in the false solutions to the problem of climate change. While community members suffer the negative effects of climate change which they did not create, they are, through schemes like REDD, liable to being criminalised in the process of enforcing carbon market policies.
“The reduction of emissions from fossil fuels should be the main goal. But measures like REDD+ are diversionary market schemes which are driven by those who cannot see beyond profits”, according to Isaac ‘Asume’ Osuoka, Director of Social Action. “Communities that depend on the forests are at risk of human rights violations, as authorities could now see them as impediments to maintaining the carbon marketing potentials of forests. Unfortunately, there is no corresponding mitigation of climate change, as we are seeing.”
With REDD+, greenhouse gas polluting countries and companies in the developed world could pay for schemes that promise to reduce deforestation in the developing countries. Thus, developing countries, especially African countries having vast expanse of tropical forests, become ‘sinks’ for greenhouse gases, most of which are emitted from developed countries.
“This is a new form of colonialism”, according to Nnimmo Bassey, Coordinator of Health of the Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF). “REDD+ is subjugating African communities and driving new land grabs akin to the colonisation of the continent.”
With the ongoing UN climate conference seeking agreements for global action including the implementation of REDD+ mechanism, citizens groups at the People’s Summit are demanding people-oriented measures that will actually curtail climate change worldwide.
Other speakers at the event included Ruth Nyambura of the African Biodiversity Network, Kenya, Tom Goldtooth of Indigenous Environmental Network, USA and Cassandra Smithies, a researcher/campaigner on climate justice.
Download the Report here