News

Indigenous Peoples Own Carbon Credits, Group Says

A proposal being considered at the climate change talks in Copenhagen would put a cash value on standing forests that help soak up atmospheric carbon dioxide. The plan could provide a powerful new incentive to those who protect their forests in order to trap greenhouse gases. But some advocates are concerned the forest plan could trigger a land rush, and threaten the rights of the indigenous peoples who call the forests home.

According to a new legal opinion, the Surui tribe owns the rights to any carbon credits granted to their Amazon forest home.
According to a new legal opinion, the Surui tribe owns the rights to any carbon credits granted to their Amazon forest home.

Multimedia

Audio

One of the world's largest forests, the Brazilian Amazon, could be worth a lot of extra money under a proposed deal that pays forest landowners to preserve trees. Indigenous peoples living in the Amazon Basin would make effective use of the funding that forest credits could generate, says Beto Borges with the conservation group Forest Trends.

"It brings resources in the hands of those who have been the stewards of this land for generations," he says.
 
Economic pressure

The indigenous tribes of the Amazon Basin have been protecting that land for free. But now, Borges says, they face loggers, farmers and ranchers who seek to make money from cutting the forests down.

"The amount of pressure from economic fronts, it is just enormous," he says. "Without some form of market incentive, we believe it will be very hard for them to keep conserving these forests."

Carbon credits from a climate deal could provide that incentive.

But Borges says as preserving the forests becomes more valuable, conflicts could arise over who owns the rights to the carbon credits. Forest Trends sought to prevent those conflicts by commissioning an international law firm to look into the rights of one tribe, the Surui.

Constitutional right to carbon credits

The legal opinion, released at the climate talks in Copenhagen, says indigenous peoples have the rights to the carbon credits under Brazil's constitution.

"The constitution clearly says indigenous peoples have exclusive -- and that's the word, exclusive -- rights to the economic benefits coming from the natural resources -- especially forests -- within their territories," Borges says.

And those territories are substantial. The constitution set aside up to one-eighth of the country for indigenous peoples.

The opinion is not legally binding. Borges says there could be opposition from those who say granting so much territory to indigenous peoples is inhibiting the country's development.

How Brazilians finally decide on the most economically and environmentally sensible use of the Amazon forest will have a lot to do with agreements that emerge from the climate negotiations in Copenhagen.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs