Indigenous Groups Weigh Risks in Climate Strategy

A new post on the National Geographic blog takes a look at the climate change mitigation strategy known as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) from the perspective of two indigenous groups who will be directly affected. The report was produced by our friends Ruxandra Guidi and Bear Guerra of Fonografia Collective, and includes an article, photographs, and multimedia documentaries.

The REDD program, launched by the UN in 2008, is “an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development.”

Ruxandra and Bear spent time with the Kuna and Emberá people in Panama. The Kuna worry that a REDD deal under discussion between the Panamanian government and the World Bank could limit their access to ancestral forests as rising sea levels force them to abandon the low-lying islands where most of them now live. Some Emberá, whose own forests have been ravaged by settlers and loggers, are taking part in a pilot tree-planting project that follows the REDD’s basic framework. Both groups are moving cautiously, weighing the economic, political and cultural risks against the potential rewards.

Panama is something of a test case as tropical countries around the world look to cash in on the carbon held in rainforests and other ecosystems inhabited and used by indigenous people. It’s a fascinating and important story.