PES 7045 Natural Resource Governance Assignment Sample
Natural resources are used by every individual all over the world and are major for their survival. With the technological advancements and rapid development in lifestyle, there can be seen increases in issues concerning natural resource depletion (Nawaz et. al. 2019). For example, water is being demanded by every individual worldwide but there are several regions facing water scarcity and water pollution is also increasing making it more difficult to consume water. Other than that, there are several other natural resources like land, forests, minerals, biodiversity, fish, and sea resources that are in danger due to their increased use or negative use.
According to Hamann et. al. (2018) Natural resource governance can be defined as the norms, processes, and institutions that determine how responsibilities and power over natural resources are exercised and the way citizens will take part to manage the natural resources.
Furthermore, the equity and effectiveness of the governance process critically determine the extent to which the ecosystem contributes to both long-term prospects of environment conservation and human well-being. Sharing power and responsibilities along with securing rights through an effective natural resource governance framework will be beneficial for both biodiversity and people (Hotte et. al. 2021).
Governance plays a crucial role in the foundation of the world that aims at valuing and conserving the environment or nature and making contributions to achieving sustainable development goals. The primary goal of the natural resource governance framework is to set guidelines and standards for making decisions at all levels so the benefits of natural resources can be distributed equally among all individuals.
As the use of natural resource among all the parts worldwide is increasing many parts around the world is unable to access them. For example, many people worldwide don’t even have proper access to drinking water and the water demand is increasing continuously but the water-scarce region is facing issues as per Akhter et. al. (2020). Looking at this issue, it can be said that addressing issues related to a natural resource is necessary so every individual can take its beneficiary advantage.
Figure 1: Indigenous people. (Source: Singh, 2020)
Looking at this concern, the research will focus on forest as a natural resource for indigenous people and local communities. Insecure land rights are described as a global crisis, it has been seen that around millions of local communities and indigenous people were at the risk of losing their lands and livelihoods. There can be seen progress made in different countries for the rights of indigenous people and local communities often observed as empty promises.
The major issue behind this is that the continuous development and expansion investments projects majorly target indigenous people and local communities and displace them to use their land. Many times, people are killed if they oppose displacement or try to save their land. Based on a new analysis, ownership of around 50% of the world’s land area, the world’s local communities, and indigenous people have ownership rights to around one-fifth of the land that is theirs.
This gap clearly describes poverty, violation of human rights, and conflict all around the world (Orach et. al. 2020). For this purpose, there is a requirement of a global call to action so the land rights of local communities and indigenous people can be secured and respected.
The primary reason for choosing forest conservation as the major topic is that forests don’t provide a livelihood to indigenous people only but it is home to many wild animals. With deforestation, biodiversity will also lose its home and find it difficult to survive. Further, individuals living in a society highly depend on the forest for their survival. For example, the air we are taking and the wood we are using are coming from the forest.
Along with offering livelihood for animals and humans, forests also provide watershed protection, mitigate climate change, and prevent soil erosion. Hence, forest conservation is necessary for managing the circular economy (Robinson et. al. 2019). Nowadays, with the increased development and expansion, companies and governments are using the forest as their land without even asking indigenous people and using it for commercial purposes affecting biodiversity, the livelihood of indigenous people, and increasing climate change emergency.
Looking at these issues, it has become essential to conserve forests along with protecting the livelihood of indigenous people. Every community worldwide is taking the step for their right and many times it leads to violence as well. Several community programs and steps have been initiated to support indigenous people and train them to enhance their income and employment opportunities for better livelihood (Jönsson and Snäll, 2020). On the other hand, the state government is also taking several initiatives so they can protect indigenous people even if the forest is acquired for commercial use.
The primary aim of securing those rights is to achieve an equitable world. From participation to peace, health to education, growth to cultural diversity, land rights and gender justice is must for achieving sustainable development in today’s developing era (Ihemezie et. al. 2021).
The forests are their life, while outsiders look at them as money. The voice they are raising needs to be heard by the global world and they want their rights to their traditional lands restored and recognised. Increasingly in past years, government, speculators, powerful local elites, agribusinesses, mining companies, and more have been appropriating pastures, shores, forests, and different community owned-resources from their rightful owners as per Springer et. al. (2021). This inappropriate behaviour is not only responsible for affecting their livelihood but it also takes their place where they can live, eat and earn.
Land matters as the forests and other lands traditionally owned by local communities and indigenous people are described as a global resource. It doesn’t only provide the livelihood to these people but also helps the environment in handling climate change, offers biodiversity protection, and maintains natural resources (Schilling et. al. 2018).
Indigenous people and local communities can secure these under their stewardship. Many individuals look at the community land as a major obstacle to development. The take away of land from these people will be developed and could become a reason for deforestation that can further affect the environment and natural resources. These lands are used and governed under community-based governance.
Customary tenure is defined as the norms and rules which communities uphold to regulate the way their lands are owned, acquired, used and transferred. Many rules formed are tested over generations. On the other hand, customary law is defined as the norms that have force in the community. When national legislation recognises that customary law has force then the rules will become the part of statutory law (Lutter et. al. 2019).
Community-based tenure describes the situation stating that right to manage or own land is under community level. It also involves tenure regimes that are based on tenure regimes ir customary law in which the statutory basis of the shared ownership of natural resource is not based in customary law.
Land issues for Indigenous people in the US
Indigenous people in the US have lost around 90% of the land that they have occupied historically. The tribes living in the land today are forced to move their livelihood to less-valuable areas, that excluded them from a key sector of the US economy like the energy market. The lands that are taken from these people are now suffering from various risks like climate change hazards, decreased precipitation, and extreme heat.
It can be observed that the way these people were protecting the land was good. As per Woodward et. al. (2020) in the 17th century, the European settlers forced Indigenous people to leave their land with the backing of the colonial government. Several policies like the Trail of Tears also affected their livelihood and they know that they have to go through several negative effects with the establishment of these policies.
Furthermore, it has been found that around 98.9% of indigenous people across the US have lost their land and around 93.9% of the entire geographic area they occupied. They are forced to move or displace from their land due to several developments or expansions the country is planning. The development is growth for the people and country but it cannot be achieved by displacing indigenous people more than 241 km without giving them any security in place of taking their land forcefully (Lines and Jardine, 2019).
Nowadays, the land that is stolen from them is now facing strong challenges related to climate change hazards. Several initiatives are taken by the government and communities to offer the land rights to indigenous people again.
USAID promotes community-based conservation
USAID is a program that partners with communities so they can strengthen their resource rights and conserve their wildlife and forests. It has been found that conservation and development efforts are effective and sustainable if they are led by local communities and people.
USAID is described as a leader in community-based conservation for the past decades, aiming at expanding land, coastal areas, and marine areas under conservation management (Gauchan et. al. 2020). Through these program initiatives, they have also conserved forests and wildlife that absorb GHGs along with uplifting security, governance, and economic growth worldwide for the vulnerable people.
Community forestry: USAID began to support community forestry user groups in 1994 and currently, there have 22,000 individuals sustainably benefiting and managing their forests. The community user group also offers training to a forestry user group that has helped them in improving forest governance along with leadership roles (Owusu and Boafo, 2018). As this is community-led management, forest health and biodiversity are also improving, forests are able of absorbing carbon dioxide that results in global warming. The user groups have also gained awareness about the ways to use these forests sustainably for increasing their incomes like ecotourism.
Further, they have also invested in conservation in Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere reserve so they can manage forests adequately. The local forest concession system, allows the community to manage forests along with harvesting a sustainable amount of non-timber and timber forests products (Horst and Marion, 2019). These steps were majorly responsible for decreasing deforestation, fires maintained tree cover for around 450,000 hectares.
The members of the community are also allowed to sell their products globally offering sustainable employment and opportunities to generate minimum wage. From 2013 to 20, the community concessions have developed around 23,000 seasonal and permanent jobs and are responsible for generating $52 million in sales of goods and services and they have made around 30% of investments for rural infrastructure, local schools, scholarships, and healthcare. This community group describes that economic development, climate change mitigation and natural resource conservation can be achieved altogether.
Figure 2: Land inequality. (Source: Wegerif, 2020)
Furthermore, community conservation is defined as an approach to land conservation that utilises more people (Edwards, 2020). It is initiated by listening to the voices of communities and then responding. Community conservation primarily aims at strengthening the land trust to meet the needs represented by people in the community. For example, community conservation has taken a step toward broadening support for conservation stating that everyone deserved to live in a healthy community and must enjoy their connection with nature. The more the number of people in land trusts the more support they can offer to improve the lives of individuals.
According to Konishi, (2019) it can be seen that protecting forests and wildlife is necessary to reduce the climate change effects on the environment. For example, they train people about the benefits of forests and the way they offer a lifestyle to wild animals along with local communities and indigenous people in most sectors. It can be seen that deforestation is a major cause of affecting biodiversity and destroys the earning opportunity for many individuals.
All around the world, forest communities are at the risk of losing their homes to cattle ranchers, settlers, illegal loggers, and companies. These activities are not only responsible for affecting the communities living there but also increase the carbon emissions by removing forests as carbon sinks. Protecting community forest rights must meet the climate change mitigation targets as forests are the major source to address climate change issues.
Community forest rights
Community forests are the land usually held by indigenous or rural communities as per shared language, culture, history, or lineage. Most community forest lands are majorly governed by customary rules, rights, and institutions that pre-date modern governments. Customary rights govern community forest land along with supporting local livelihoods and culture (Costanza-Chock, 2020).
Forest communities use small areas of forest for agriculture or husbandry and it can regenerate and offers diverse benefits in the form of medicines, materials, food, and more. Under these customary forest rights, many community members have inheritable rights to the community’s forest for supporting the land, whereas the remaining forest is a common property called forest commons that has several rules governing use and access. Further, the community forest land can’t be sold and they are allowed to take advantage of forest commons.
Community forest offers opportunities for hundreds of millions of people for earning and livelihoods. The forest is a major part of indigenous people and local communities’ life as it provides them timber, wildlife, water, and identity. These resources are the major source of their employment, security, and nutrition (TYAGI, 2019). Hence, the steps taken by communities to offer protection to indigenous people and rural communities are beneficial and it also provides them with employment opportunities that could be beneficial for their livelihood.
In many countries, the customary rights to their forest are not legally recognised. As opined by Dlugoleski, (2020) this affects the forest communities to a great extent and makes them vulnerable to losing their forests land to developers, companies, and other interested parties looking for development. Many times, the government considers the forest vacant, idle, and available for commercial use and is responsible for taking the rights of indigenous people from forest commons.
Government is responsible for allocating large areas of forest to large companies so they can use it for oil palm, commercial logging, and other economic interests. The government thinks that acquiring forest lands can help in bringing development and more. It can be seen that the majority of forest lands are used in search of some minerals or some factories to operate which increases climate change emergency.
Hence, the indigenous people living nearby forests will also face difficulties while displacing as the government doesn’t offer them huge prices or proper livelihood after acquiring forest (Reyes‐García et. al. 2019). As a consequence, the community will lose the forest permanently along with the benefits they are having. The government also offers the commercial the right to deforest responsible for increased CO2 effects and other hazards.
It can be stated that instead of taking their lands for commercial use there is an essential requirement to work with communities to optimise their forest rights instead of undermining them. There are various opportunities for sustainable development beenfits that can be used by government. Community forest rights is beneficial for the community as it helps them in saving their forest and protecting it, improves forest health and reduce CO2 emissions (Sangha et. al. 2018). Therefore, there is need for strengthening community forest rights so indigenous people and local communities can save and protect their forests.
For example, there can be done legal recognition and protection for communities’ customary forest rights, enforcement of these rights by registering community forests and expelling illegal settlers and loggers, engaging forest communities in investments and developments affecting their forests and many more to strengthen the community forest rights.
State government led approaches
The state government-led approaches also focus on forest conservation but they also contribute to affecting the forest by handling it to settlers and using it for commercial purposes. In the US, many forests and lands from indigenous people are now being used for meeting commercial demands like materials extraction, operating factories, and more (May, 2018). This type of step affects the natural resource to a great extent and this natural resource offers livelihood and income generation facilities to indigenous people and local communities. Further, the state government sees forests as a resource that can bring expansion and development.
Even in many scenarios, many state governments offer some amount of money to community people so they can displace without creating any issues. Giving them a little amount of money is not enough to meet their future demands. Many members of communities stand for their rights but it further transforms into violence and many people lose their life (Pratt et. al. 2018). From this, it can be said that there is an essential requirement to take strict actions towards forest conservation along with offering communities their forest rights.
State government follows the policies developed by government like the National Envrionment Policy (NEPA) that helps in supporting the forest service’s compliance in concern with environmental laws and regulations guiding the way to manage land and resource of natural forest system. Further, the increasing concerns about the rights to access and utilise natural resources has become very essential in forest conservation (Lengoiboni et. al. 2019).
It can be observed that people believe in investing their time, money and effort in conserving forest if they have secure rights that they will get benefits from their investments. For this purpose, the star government is taking initiatives that the forest resources can benefit all the individuals so they can conserve forest.
The US government maintained the British policy for treaty-making with local communities. These treaties are used to define the boundaries of their lands and to compensate for acquiring their lands. After that, the government also initiated a policy named allotment and assimilation. According to treaties that are mainly forced on the tribes and a common reservation lands are allocated to individual families.
Currently, the influence of the civil rights movement in the 1960s resulted in the Indian Self-Determination Act 1978 which restored some sovereignty to tribal government and presented independence for operating and handling federal programs and funds (Garibaldi et. al. 2021). Additionally, the state government primarily focuses on taking the land from local communities by compensating them or offering them some price.
According to Chiaravalloti, (2019) the land occupied by indigenous people is under customary ownership still government didn’t recognise this land as legally or formally belonging to indigenous people. It is necessary to improve the security of land tenure, promote public investments, strengthen governance, and support these people for livelihoods and resilience.
Supporting indigenous people will also help in reducing the poverty along with making contributions to achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs). The World Bank works with Indigenous people and the government to assure that broader development programs so can reflect the aspirations and voices of indigenous people.
State government-led approaches to forest protection and offering livelihood guarantee to indigenous people are contributing to achieving sustainable development goals. United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) in 2017 has helped in achieving their rights. There can be seen the establishment of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNSR), and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) for supporting the ownership rights of indigenous people (Tauli-Corpuz et. al. 2020).
Federal officials constantly engage with US government so they can primarily focus on Indigenous Issues. The EPAs tribal programme and environmental Justics (EJ) is primarily focused on helping several recognised tribes along with working with indigenous people and grassroots organisations.
Therefore, looking at the initiative adopted by communities and state governments could help indigenous people save their livelihood along with forest conservation. It can be observed that communities are also taking steps to protect their land but the government and other commercial users compensate them by offering them some amount of money.
Offering them money won’t offer them employment or income opportunities or a place where they could live. Community led-approaches in concern with forest conservation are sustainable and effective as they are offering life to indigenous people along with providing them diverse business opportunities that can help them survive in the future (Cernea and Maldonado, 2018).
Using the forest for commercial use is not only affecting their lives but also responsible for deforestation, climate change hazards, increased carbon emissions, and other issues. For reducing this impact, communities are using some resources from the forest that offers them income along with improving forest and protecting them.
Forests are defined as the livelihood of many local communities and indigenous people along with offering life to biodiversity. Deforestation can live the life of wild animals in danger. For this purpose, several community programs have developed that focus on offering training to indigenous people so they can use resources to improve their income efficiency. Further, this training also helps in providing them with various suggestions to protect forests.
But the state government-led approaches are not focused on offering livelihood to indigenous people (Powlen et. al. 2021). They just aim at compensating them and displacing them so they can use the forest as commercial land. Compensating with a small amount of money can be beneficial for a small period but it can affect their livelihood in the long run.
It can be suggested that if the state government want to use the land for commercial purpose, they must offer some land to indigenous people or local community along with some employment opportunities so if they are dependent on forest then they can lose their income generation facilities as well.
Moreover, the state government must identify that indigenous people play a major role in protecting the forest and the bio economy as well. It can be seen that conserving forests is must to take some steps for addressing climate change concerns. For example, deforestation can increase the impact of carbon emissions and loss of biodiversity. On the other hand, forests are known to be carbon sinks so forest conservation can help in reducing carbon emissions to some extent assuring that climate change hazards can be eliminated.
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