Indigenous rights key to slowing deforestation, says Norway minister

    by Anastasia Moloney, Thomson Reuters Foundation
    Wednesday, 15 June 2016 10:35 BST

People from the Sengwer community protest over their eviction from their ancestral lands, Embobut Forest, by the government for forest conservation in western Kenya, April 19, 2016. REUTERS/Katy Migiro

Efforts to save the world's forests hinge on securing private sector funds and ensuring indigenous communities in tropical forests are more involved in protecting their environment, Norway's environment minister said.

When forests are degraded or destroyed, the carbon stored in the trees is released into the atmosphere, with deforestation accounting for 10 to 15 percent of carbon emissions worldwide.

"A key priority of REDD+ is self-governance and strengthening the involvement of indigenous communities in the forests," minister Vidar Helgesen told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview.

But campaigners say all too often indigenous groups are sidelined from decisions affecting the forests on which they rely for their livelihoods, and are not properly consulted about dam, mining and agriculture projects on or near their lands.

"In some countries it is still at the level of lip service," Helgesen said.

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