Seeds of Hope
“What are the solutions to forest destruction?” “What are the alternatives?” Questions like these are often raised to squash possible debate that could lead to real solutions to deforestation and climate chaos. The way forward starts with ending the assault on forest peoples and their ways of life, and learning about their relationships with their territories. For generations, forest-dependent communities have lived in and with forests, and have protected them.
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A group of riparian Batwa people, exasperated by the extreme poverty following their eviction in order to establish the Kahuzi Biega National Park, decided to return to their ancestral forests. Since then, they regularly clash with the “eco-guards,” sometimes leading to the loss of human lives.
The inter-dependencies in and among communities with their life spaces and practices sheds light to the conservation practices of forest communities. And within these interdependencies lie the stories of women.
The indigenous Ngäbe-Buglé people had to endure brutal repression to avoid the onslaught on their territories. They managed to get the Government to ban mining and hydroelectric dams in their territory. However, another intense onslaught came from conservationist NGOs.
Plantation companies often argue that local populations are destroying the forests, particularly where people depend on firewood and/or charcoal for their energy needs. Thus, they argue, industrial plantations can “sustainably” provide this wood. But this is simply not true.
Women’s struggle for full and dignified recognition of their lives and territories starts with not allowing the extractive model to progress. However, it must be resolved by the need for women to be able to make decisions to strengthen collective political control.
A feminist view on Commons reveals that accumulation opposes the basic principles of sharing and sustaining: receiving from nature’s abundance is done by ensuring that needs (and not wants or greed) define the extent of extraction.
The Network of Women’s Organizations of Tirúa, in south central Chile, is deploying strategies for life to prevail in this region. This territory has been threatened by the massive invasion of tree plantations, which state policies continue to promote.
After the cancellation of the Baram mega-dam in 2016, the villagers of Long Liam, who were among the thousands opposing the construction of a mega dam, joined forces to install the very much needed power source in their community.
WRM spoke with Kum’tum, an indigenous man from the Akroá-Gamela people of Brazil. These are his reflections about their history and the current collective process that aims to rediscover and recover their roots, after having been dispossessed of their territory and community. (Available in Swahili).