By Jonathan Mason Recognizing community forest rights is important not just for legally securing those lands for the community, but also for mitigating the threat of climate change. That’s what WRI and the Rights and Resources Initiative have detailed in a new collaborative report entitled Securing Rights, Combating Climate Change. The two organizations partnered to study the effects on forests when governments protect (or fail to protect) communities’ rights to access and use local forest resources. Now, thanks to new land and forest tenure data added to GFW, users can interact with the findings of the report in new ways. The research found that:

  1. When governments legally recognize and protect community forests, those forests store more carbon and experience less deforestation than comparable unprotected forests.
  2. Community forests that aren’t legally recognized become vulnerable to deforestation, including by government-sanctioned activities such as the establishment of industrial agriculture plantations in forested concession areas.
  3. Legally recognizing and protecting the forest rights of communities ensures community access to forest products, such as plants used for housing and medicine.

Global Forest Watch is a powerful platform to monitor how community rights affect forests around the world. That’s why,  GFW is releasing new Land and Resource Rights data under the map’s “People” tab, coinciding with the publication of the report, users can now visualize how forest loss and gain relates to community land tenure systems, and where those systems may overlaps with other types of commercial forest use.

GFW image 12 GFW data shows minimal forest loss within legally recognized forest community areas in Brazil.

GFW now includes data for the following countries: Land Rights (a community’s legal right to access use, and manage land within a specified boundary)

  • Australia Native Titles
  • Brazil Indigenous Lands
  • Canada Aboriginal Lands
  • Panama Comarcas
  • New Zealand Maori Lands

Resource Rights (a community’s legal right to access use, and manage natural resources within a specified boundary)

  • Cameroon Community Forests
  • Equatorial Guinea Community Forests
  • Liberia Community Forests
  • Namibia Community Forests