Rights & Tenure in the News »
DRC: Forest peoples use technology to secure their lands
Writing for Mongabay.com, Jeremy Hance reports on a new initiative that Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK) is spearheading in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that aims to advance tenure security for some of the country’s indigenous communities.
RFUK has trained 66 so-called ‘Master Mappers’ to assist more than 500 Congolese villagers in using GPS technology to map their communities’ forestlands and identify important points within their territories like villages, sacred places, and hunting grounds. The rationale behind the initiative is that the maps provide a basis for strengthening tenure security in a country where forest peoples’ land rights have historically been precarious. From 1996-1997, and then again from 1998-2003, civil war raged in the DRC, ravaging the Congo rainforest, the world’s second largest. Now, the rainforest that was once exploited by armed combatants to the DRC’s civil wars is under siege by domestic industry and international logging interests. According to Rene Ngongo, a representative from a local NGO, “What is at stake is enormous. Two-thirds of the people in Congo depend on this forest to provide food, medicines and building materials. It is critical for the survival of people and animals.”
The absence of formal documentation attesting to indigenous land claims is part of the reason why the DRC government and the governments of other countries like it have left forest peoples out of the processes that determine policy for managing forestland. The RFUK initiative in the DRC seeks to remedy this problem. Cath Long, the RFUK Project Director envisions that the villagers’ maps “will be a vital tool for the communities to negotiate with the government. It will allow them to demonstrate that they are there, and that they need to be taken into account when decisions are made about the forest they live in.”
The indigenous communities’ maps are scheduled to be ready for inclusion in a May 8 meeting where DRC government officials will consider potentially far-reaching forest policy decisions for the country. Unlike in the past, these decisions will now be made with input from the forest peoples whose livelihoods are most at stake.
Read the article in its entirety here.
Posted By Colby Clabaugh at 9:20am on April 28, 2008
Posted By David Chester on July 16, 2008 at 06:01
When people are deprived of their land they are forced to live in towns and to depend for their employment and livelihood on land owners and monopolists of the more productive sites in or near the town. Land tenure is is a two-edged cutting instrument. The equal opportunity to use it is a necessary birthright, but the power its ownership confirs over others is a disaster. The only long-term way to conserve our general rights to the land is for its use to be paid for by a return of the rent that it generates to the government instead of taxes on the productive process such as on incomes, capital gains and purchases (all of which are dis-incentive). Thus it is necessary for the government to recognize this fact and to accept the need to control the ownership and use of land in a way that stops anyone (be forest dweller or city-block monopolist) from taking from the community and confining from them the opportunity that the land provides for all. The regulation of these land rights is a natural result of the introduction of the taxation of land values (after the value has been publically declaired on up-dated land maps) and the free use of earnings and money use outside of ground-rent on natural resources.
This blog may contain links to external websites. These links should not be construed as endorsements by Rights and Resources of the content present. They are provided for informational purposes only.