Durban, South Africa, 8 December 2011 (IUCN) — Guatemala’s National Forest Service (INAB) has recognized wider land rights for indigenous peoples and local communities, making it possible for these groups to access benefits and payments from Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, known as REDD+, according to IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
The Forest Incentives Program for Owners of Small Forests and Agro Forestry Lands (PINPEP) is now a strategic part of Guatemala’s national REDD+ strategy. It is already investing 1% of the national government budget—close to US$40 million per year— in results-based action for sustainable management of forests, reforestation, forest restoration and agro-forestry. This will benefit owners of small forest and agro-forestry lands of less than 15 hectares per beneficiary. If PINPEP has access to international REDD+ funds it can increase its impact both for biodiversity conservation and the well-being of people.
“After several years of preparations some countries are now steaming ahead with their REDD+ strategies,” says Stewart Maginnis, Global Director at IUCN. “Guatemala has made tremendous progress and shows the world how legal frameworks, when developed in close cooperation with indigenous and local communities, can help protect forests and benefit local livelihoods. This will make it possible for forest dependent communities in Guatemala to more easily access REDD+ incentives for the protection, sustainable management and restoration of forest resources.”
After having piloted PINPEP for six years, the Guatemalan government has recently adopted the program in legislation, making it possible to adapt the program as a REDD+ mechanism. IUCN has been closely involved in a process through which indigenous peoples and community organizations, government agencies and civil society organizations are working together to make PINPEP an equitable and cost- effective REDD+ mechanism.
“Originally, forest incentives only recognized officially registered properties, even though most community and indigenous peoples hold their land under traditional, customary land tenure arrangements,” says Josué Morales, Manager of Guatemala Forests. “The newly proposed mechanism, part of the PINPEP program, now clarifies and recognizes landholders through all types of law: historical documents, supplementary titles, property, land tenures and indigenous territories. This is very significant for REDD+, which in many countries is challenged because indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities face insecure land and tenure rights.”
“The level of poverty in Guatemala is one of the highest in Latin America, with an estimated 54 percent of people living below the poverty line according to a recent report published by Guatemala’s Statistics Institute,” says Amauri Molina, Deputy Manager of INAB. “The approval of the PINPEP mechanism has allowed the government to embark on governance reform. The recognition of customary rights can create incentives for the reduction of deforestation and degradation of forests, as well as generate employment and income and climate change adaptation options for rural communities and indigenous peoples, who are often the most vulnerable.”
“Guatemala is showing the world that there is no need to change entire legal frameworks to have an incentive mechanism in place that recognizes the rights of local people and helps them take responsibilities over forest management. PINPEP demonstrates how the recognition of rights within an existing framework can help forest owners take responsibility and be accountable over the implementation of incentives. This is something other countries could be also doing in other parts of the world as part of their national REDD+ planning processes,” says Consuelo Espinosa, IUCN’s Senior Forest and Climate Change Officer.
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