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Vietnam VPA at a milestone as it receives government approval
By: Centre for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD) Vietnam
Published: April 25, 2019
Countries: Vietnam
Topics: FLEGT
Document type: Blog - opinion piece
Document ID: 7419
View count: 150
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Vietnam VPA at a milestone as it receives government approval
Blog by Thi Bich Hop, Tran Ngoc Tue and Ninh Tan Thuan

 

In October 2018, Vietnam and the European Union (EU) signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) to ensure that timber exported to the EU does not come from illegal sources. As part of the Agreement, the EU requires governments to consult with forestry sector stakeholders. To support this aim, a Multi-stakeholder Core Group has been formed and the fifth Multi-stakeholder Core Group Meeting (CGM) took place in Hanoi on 5 March 2019.

The Multi-stakeholder Core Group includes representatives from civil society organisations (CSOs), as well as the private sector, research institutes and development partners. The Group provides a forum to discuss VPA implementation and propose issues for consideration by the Joint Implementation Committee.

This was the first CGM since the signing of the VPA, and it was attended by 40 people. In addition to regular participants, those attending included representatives from the EU Delegation, the donor community, international environmental NGOs, timber associations, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO). This enabled in-depth and strategic discussions.

Next steps to implementing the timber legality assurance system

Dr Prof. Pham Van Dien, Deputy Director General of VNFOREST opened the event, by expressing the Vietnam Government’s openness to contributions and feedback from stakeholders. The head of the Vietnam Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) office, Ms Nguyen Tuong Van explains the next steps as outlined in December 2018 by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) in the VPA/FLEGT Implementation Plan.

VNFOREST will work on seven main tasks, many of which require the involvement and contribution of the Core Group:

  1. Ratification and approval by the government.
  2. Development of legislative documents and guidelines such as the Decree of the Vietnam Timber Legality Assurance System (VNTLAS).
  3. Vietnam authorities establish infrastructures for the operation system.
  4. The core-group build capacity of relevant stakeholders like small and medium enterprises so the latter can comply with the new regulations.
  5. The government and the core-group communicate progress in Vietnam and abroad.
  6. Implementation of the VNTLAS will be monitored and evaluated.
  7. All activities related to the VPA and FLEGT in Vietnam and internationally will be connected and supported by the government and its partners.

Ms. Van concluded that: “By the end of 2020, VNTLAS is expected to be ready so Vietnam can issue FLEGT licenses… Both the EU and the Vietnamese government will try to accelerate the process. MARD has officially submitted the plan to develop the Decree on VNTLAS. By December 2019, the Decree must be submitted to the government for approval. In June, the first draft is expected to be ready and available online for consultation and correction for 45 days. VNFOREST expects to receive comments and feedback so they can create a meaningful Decree.”

The government, the timber industry, NGOs and CSOs are all interested in contributing to the final Decree and putting in place the VNTLAS.

Monitoring the impacts of implementation:

VPA implementation will have important economic, social and environmental impacts, therefore it is crucial to monitor its implementation. The Vietnam VPA FLEGT facilitator, M. Edwin Shanks, presented the draft VPA Monitoring and Evaluation Framework and received questions from CSOs, International NGOs, academia and the timber industry.

Points raised included the importance of implementing the Transparency Annex, and how to monitor illegal imported timber. The chair of the VNGO-FLEGT network, Mrs Hợp Vu Thị Bích, underlined that issues related to forestry households and micro and small enterprises (MSEs) should be heard by the Joint Preparation Committee (JPC) and later this year the Joint Implementation Committee (JIP) and not only the CGM. She pointed out that by monitoring impact, the VNGO-FLEGT network is connecting millions of timber-dependent Vietnamese people to decision makers and explained that it would therefore be legitimate for the network to be represented in the JPC and JIC meetings. The request was approved and VNGO-FLEGT representative have already joined a meeting on 8 March 2019.

The 5th core group meeting marked a milestone for active multi-stakeholder participation. The VNGO-FLEGT network is eager to participate in the upcoming core group meetings and in the joint implementation committee, and to provide updates/support from the ground.

 

Power and Potential: A Comparative Analysis of National Laws and Regulations Concerning Women’s Rights to Community Forests
By: Rights and Resources Initiative
Published: May 24, 2017
Countries: Other, Cameroon, DR Congo, Gabon, Indonesia, Liberia, Myanmar, Republic of Congo, Vietnam
Topics: Community Forestry Community Rights
Document type: Report
Document ID: 7411
View count: 145
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Power and Potential: A Comparative Analysis of National Laws and Regulations Concerning Women’s Rights to Community Forests

Up to 2.5 billion people hold and use the world’s community lands, yet the tenure rights of women—who comprise more than half the population of the world’s Indigenous Peoples and local communities—are seldom acknowledged or protected by national laws. Although gender norms and women’s forest tenure security vary widely across community-based tenure systems, this analysis concludes that national laws and regulations on the rights of indigenous and rural women to inheritance, community membership, community-level governance, and community-level dispute resolution are consistently unjust, falling far below the requirements of international law and related standards.

The 30 low- and middle-income countries analyzed in this study are ill-positioned to meet their obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; non-binding international guidance such as the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security; and the Sustainable Development Goals, all of which necessitate the statutory recognition of women’s rights to community forests. Inadequate legal protections for the tenure rights of indigenous and rural women fail to reflect existing gender-equitable practices in indigenous and local communities, and enable other community practices that discriminate against women, thereby weakening women’s tenure rights, jeopardizing the livelihoods of women and their families, and threatening the advancement of entire communities.


March 2018 Update: A companion analysis, Legislative Best Practices for Securing Women’s Rights to Community Lands, is now available. Download it here or in the “Relates Analyses” section below, where you can find more resources.

April 2019 Update: A third analysis, Strengthening Indigenous and Rural Women’s Rights to Govern Community Lands: Ten Factors Contributing to Successful Initiatives, is now available. Download it here.

Securing Community Land Rights: Priorities & Opportunities to Advance Climate & Sustainable Development Goals
By: Rights and Resources Initiative
Published: October 3, 2017
Countries: Other, Cameroon, DR Congo, Indonesia, Laos, Liberia, Malaysia, Myanmar
Topics: Climate Change Community Forestry Community Rights
Document type: Report
Document ID: 7406
View count: 147
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Securing Community Land Rights: Priorities & Opportunities to Advance Climate & Sustainable Development Goals

Legally recognized and secure land and resource rights are fundamental to the advancement of global peace, prosperity, and sustainability. From the development of human cultures to the realization of democracy itself, tenure security underpins the very fabric of human society and our relationship to the natural environment. Today, insecure tenure rights threaten the livelihoods and wellbeing of a third of the world’s population, and with it, the very future of our planet. As the historical stewards of the world’s lands and forests, Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and rural women play a critical role in the management and sustainable use of globally significant natural resource systems. In effect, protecting their rights protects everyone’s right to live in a more just, prosperous, and verdant world.

Governments, however, have so far been slow to recognize and secure the collective land and resource rights of rural communities. As a result, even though Indigenous Peoples and local communities customarily claim and manage over 50 percent of the world’s lands, they legally own just 10 percent. In order to eliminate poverty; prevent the spread of social and political conflicts; and ensure progress toward global climate, conservation, and development goals, urgent actions are needed to redress this fundamental injustice.

Fortunately, the world has never been better positioned to close this gap.

At a Crossroads: Consequential Trends in Recognition of Community-based Forest Tenure From 2002-2017
By: Rights and Resources Initiative
Published: September 9, 2018
Countries: Other, Cameroon, Central African Republic, DR Congo, Gabon, Republic of Congo
Topics: Community Forestry
Document type: Report
Document ID: 7403
View count: 128
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At a Crossroads: Consequential Trends in Recognition of Community-based Forest Tenure From 2002-2017

Despite the substantial forest area held, claimed, and managed by Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and rural women, the vast majority of the world’s forests formally remain under government administration as national or provincial forests, protected areas, or forests allocated to third parties under concessions. Given evidence that deforestation rates are often lower and carbon sequestration greater in forests where Indigenous Peoples’ and local communities’ rights are legally recognized, there is an urgent need to scale up tenure reform in order to safeguard the world’s remaining forests.

This analysis reports on trends in global forest tenure over the fifteen-year period from 2002-2017. It is the fourth in a series of analyses monitoring the legal recognition of forest tenure around the world according to four categories of legally recognized (statutory) forest tenure: government administered, designated for Indigenous Peoples and local communities, owned by Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and privately owned by individuals and firms.

Notwithstanding the limited progress overall, emerging evidence and opportunities provide reason for hope: across the same 41 countries, two-thirds of the advancement in community tenure between 2013-2017 relate to increases in community forest ownership, with over 90 percent of this progress stemming from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Moreover, recent laws in a number of countries establish new legal pathways for communities to own their forests under national law. Together, these advancements signal possible movement toward the recognition of additional and more robust forest tenure rights for Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

A Global Baseline of Carbon Storage in Collective Land
By: Rights and Resources Initiative
Published: September 10, 2018
Countries: Other, Cameroon, DR Congo, Gabon, Guyana, Honduras, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam
Topics: Climate Change Community Rights
Document type: Briefing note
Document ID: 7400
View count: 103
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A Global Baseline of Carbon Storage in Collective Land

Forests and other lands are essential for achieving climate and development ambitions. If appropriately leveraged, natural climate solutions can contribute upwards of 37 percent of cost-effective CO2 mitigation by 2030,1 and evidence shows Indigenous Peoples and local communities are key to achieving such outcomes.
This report presents the most comprehensive assessment to date of carbon storage in documented community lands worldwide.

Key Findings

  1. Indigenous Peoples and local communities manage at least 17 percent (~300 billion Mt) of the total carbon stored in the forestlands of assessed countries—a global estimate that is 5 times greater than shown in a previous analysis of aboveground tropical forest carbon, equivalent to 33 times the global energy emissions of 2017.
  2. Twenty two percent (217,991 MtC) of the forest carbon found in the 52 tropical and subtropical countries in this analysis is stewarded by communities, and one-third of this (72,079 MtC) is located in areas where Indigenous Peoples and local communities lack formal recognition of their tenure rights—putting them, their lands, and the carbon stored therein at risk.
  3. Soil organic carbon accounts for almost 65 percent (113,218 Mt) and nearly 90 percent (105,606 Mt) of the total forest carbon managed by communities in tropical and non-tropical forest countries, respectively. By protecting their forests and lands, communities are not only maintaining the carbon stored in the trees (above and below ground), but are also in effect protecting vast reservoirs of carbon that would otherwise be released to the atmosphere if the overlying forests were destroyed.
  4. Carbon storage in collective lands is far greater and more extensive than what can be assessed through available data. This assessment remains an underestimate of carbon stored in collective forestlands worldwide. The full extent of forests and other lands held by indigenous and local communities—and particularly those where communities have yet to achieve legal recognition of their rights—is unknown and spatially explicit data concerning these areas remains lacking. Thus, vast stores of carbon within collective lands in carbon-rich countries such as Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo remain undocumented.
Numopoh community forest: delta timber company in disregard to Liberian forestry laws
By: Volunteers to Support International Efforts in Developing Africa (vosieda)
Published: December 31, 2018
Countries: Liberia
Topics: Community Forestry Community Rights Independent Forest Monitoring (IFM)
Document type: Report
Document ID: 6971
View count: 199
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Numopoh community forest: delta timber company in disregard to Liberian forestry laws

An Independent Forest Monitoring (IFM) investigation into complaints of illegal logging and non-compliance by Delta Timber Company (DTC) in Numopoh Community Forest in Sinoe County.

Since the inception of a company-community agreement in May 2016, there have been reports of persistent infractions by the company. DTC’s obligation to the community include payment of Cubic Metre Fee and Area Fee, construction of a clinic and a school, provision of scholarships, and hiring community members in key positions in the company. To date, there is no evidence that DTC has met any of these obligations.

The report highlights the need for FDA be much more diligent in following due process when supervising the negotiation and implementation of Commercial Use Contracts in community forests. It also highlights how key obligations to the community owning the forest need to be included in the definition of legal timber from community forests in order to comply with the Voluntary Partnership Agreement signed between Liberia and the European Union.

Community forestry: opportunity or mirage for women in the Congo basin?
By: Fern
Published: March 1, 2019
Countries: Central African Republic, DR Congo
Topics: Community Forestry Community Rights
Document type: Report
Document ID: 6967
View count: 139
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Community forestry: opportunity or mirage for women in the Congo basin?
There is a translation of this document available:

In the Congo Basin, women play an important role in forest management by either practicing traditional agroforestry or collecting fuelwood and non-timber forest products for food, livestock, and health care or income generation. As women are involved in forest management, they must also be recognised as key players in community forest initiatives, and encouraged to contribute.

This abstract is from the French language briefing note “La foresterie communautaire : Opportunité ou chimère pour les femmes du Bassin du Congo ?” It considers the extent to which community forestry in Central Africa, particularly in Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo, can benefit women, taking into account the regional, local institutional, legal and cultural context.

Practical potential conflict and implementation challenges for the CRL and the LRL
By: Sustainable Development Institute (SDI)
Published: February 1, 2019
Countries: Liberia
Topics: Community Forestry
Document type: Briefing note
Document ID: 6950
View count: 139
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Practical potential conflict and implementation challenges for the CRL and the LRL

Peace building efforts by Liberian legislators and their international partners have recognized the significance of forest governance in sustaining peace over the past 15 years. But whereas last year’s Land Rights Law (LRL) was heralded as an improvement also for community forest governance, some provisions of the new law may become problematic for community forestry when implemented.
The aim of this paper is not an exhaustive legal opinion on the contents of the new law, as this lies in the domain of Liberia’s many apt legal practitioners to provide. Rather this paper will present an analysis of both laws and, highlight practical challenges that will very likely emerge when both laws are implemented in the same community concomitantly.

Should Liberia develop a legal framework on Industrial Agriculture? Perspectives from a civil society organization working on the ground
By: Save My Future Foundation Liberia (SAMFU)
Published: January 29, 2019
Countries: Liberia
Topics: Community Forestry
Document type: Report
Document ID: 6946
View count: 119
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Should Liberia develop a legal framework on Industrial Agriculture? Perspectives from a civil society organization working on the ground

This brief aims to ensure that policy makers are well informed about the realities of industrial agriculture in Liberia. With a focus on palm oil plantations, it brings together national civil society experience of the problems rural communities are facing as they try to protect their lands and livelihoods and provides an outline of the policy process and recommendations so far in Liberia.

The brief outlines the arguments that underpin the need for the development of a legal framework to regulate the industrial agriculture sector, and seeks to recommend solutions that could avoid overlap of concessions or other conflicts over land. Indeed the UN and the Government of Liberia acknowledge in their 2017 Liberia Peace Building Plan that “land disputes, corruption, boundary disputes and concession related tensions continue to be the main triggers of violence”. A robust and enforced legal framework will also ensure that communities impacted by industrial agriculture receive their rightful benefits, and that the Government of Liberia is able to collect the correct revenues and benefit in terms of development and employment objectives being met.

The launch of the report was covered by Front Page Africa.

Bringing community forestry to the next level: a review of European support in the Congo Basin
By: Fern
Published: April 4, 2019
Countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, DR Congo, Gabon, Republic of Congo
Topics: Community Forestry Community Rights FLEGT
Document type: Report
Document ID: 6938
View count: 103
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Bringing community forestry to the next level: a review of European support in the Congo Basin
There is a translation of this document available:

In the past two decades, community forestry has yielded uneven results in the Congo Basin. The initial goal – enabling local communities to benefit directly from forest management – is not yet a reality. Problems include uneven political support, legal and technical constraints, land grabbing and revenue capture. All of these have a detrimental impact on communities.

Community forestry has nonetheless become established in the region, and its potential to strengthen communities’ livelihoods, protect forests and meet climate objectives is widely recognised.

Stronger and better support to community forest management is timely given Congo Basin and EU donor commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan. All of these processes insist on the role of good forest management in poverty, reduction, biodiversity protection and the fight against climate change.

All those affected (including civil society and local communities) have a role to play in ensuring community control over forests contributes to more resilient forests, clearer land rights, and better development outcomes.

This report concludes that it is time to act – the Congo Basin forests and communities shouldn’t wait when solutions are already at hand.