Pico Bonito, Honduras. (Photo by R. Butler)
THE ROLE OF COMMUNICATION AND EDUCATION IN SAVING RAINFORESTS
By Rhett Butler
| Last updated July 22, 2007
One of the most essential parts of saving the world's rainforests is keeping an open line of communication between
all parties. Communication from all parties, including indigenous peoples, local populations, business interests,
governments, scientists, and conservationists, is key to understanding how to best approach balancing conservation
with development. The information gained from conferences can be used to help devise a plan that will be acceptable
to all parties. No group should be excluded or misrepresented and every effort should be made to keep conferences
open and non-threatening. Conferences should meet regularly and have some legislative muscle so that decisions
can be implemented. So far no such ideal conference has taken place, but in all fairness the whole rainforest conservation
issue is relatively recent as a worldwide concept.
The conferences that have met to date have brought up important issues, but their decisions tend to lack power
and usually go unimplemented. The largest environmental conference took place in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and was
host to some 100 heads of state, the largest gathering of such officials ever.
Since Rio, there have been countless small conferences which have discussed environmental issues. In June of 1995
the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development (WCFSD) met in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), aiming
to raise the level of understanding of rainforests' dual role in preserving natural environment and contributing
to sustainable development. The conference recognized the need for policy reform together with renewed efforts
to enforce existing regulations to stop deforestation. It promised more local community involvement in forest conservation
and management and placed special emphasis on reconciling conflicts between factions with different views on
forest use. The conference discussed better definition of land titles for local communities and various financial
mechanisms for ensuring more equal distribution of forests' benefits and revenues. This conference serves as an
example of what conservation conferences propose and how little things actually change afterwards.
Education is one of the most important ingredients in saving the rainforests. Unfortunately, environmental education is not a
high priority in many countries with tropical rainforests.
Education can provide the next generation with lessons not learned in the past: that rainforests are worth saving. With
this information, children will be more aware of the problems they may face in the future when they become leaders.
"There Are No Lemurs in
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REDD+ program to cut deforestation gets final approval in Warsaw
(11/22/2013) Negotiators in Warsaw have reached formal agreement on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+), a program that aims to compensate tropical countries for protecting their forests. After seven years of discussions, countries approved the final REDD+ text on Friday at the COP17.
Redeeming REDD: a conversation with Michael Brown
(11/11/2013) In Redeeming REDD: Policies, Incentives and Social Feasibility for Avoided Deforestation, anthropologist Michael Brown relays a constructive critique of the contemporary aims, standards and modalities for mitigating climate change by reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD). Brown advocates for REDD as a viable mechanism for the long-term pro-poor conservation and restoration of tropical forests as well—but only if local forest dwellers and Indigenous. Peoples can join the negotiating table and act as forest stewards. Local people must first be empowered to make 'socially feasible' decisions that are necessary for their livelihoods and well-being. In other words, there can be no environmentalism without credible local leadership, which requires investment in capacity building at the local level for sustainable institutions.
Could camera trap videos galvanize the world to protect Yasuni from oil drilling?
(11/07/2013) Even ten years ago it would have been impossible to imagine: clear-as-day footage of a jaguar plodding through the impenetrable Amazon, or a bicolored-spined porcupine balancing on a branch, or a troop of spider monkeys feeding at a clay lick, or a band of little coatis racing one-by-one from the dense foliage. These are things that even researchers who have spent a lifetime in the Amazon may never see. Now anyone can: scientists at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station in Ecuador's Yasuní National Park have recently begun using camera trap videos to take movies of animals few will ever view in their lifetimes. The videos—following years of photo camera trapping—provide an intimate view of a world increasingly threatened by the oil industry.
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