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On International Day Of Forests: Defending Indigenous Peoples Is Defending Forests And Life Itself!


“The forest is not a resource for us, it is life
itself. It is the only place for us to
live.” 

– Evaristo Nugkuag Ikanan,
Indigenous Aguaruna leader

The International
Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-determination and
Liberation (IPMSDL) celebrates the International Day of
Forests with every forest’s best guardian and nurturer,
the world’s Indigenous Peoples.

An estimate of 350
million Indigenous Peoples
(IP) are living inside and
dependent on forests. From the biggest rainforests of
Africa, Amazon, Americas and Asia, indigenous communities,
tribal peoples and forest dwellers root their ways of life
to forests biodiversity and ecosystem. For many, their
dependence on forests range from sustenance, livelihood,
shelter to cultural, spiritual and overall identity as a
large part of forests coincides with ancestral
lands.

But the conversion of forests into expanse of
private business lands and corporate investments has
drastically destroyed forests to irreparable degradation.
Likewise, Indigenous Peoples have been sounding the alarm
for decades of losing their homes, lives and rights as
forests disappear.

The rate of destruction of forests
has never been more apparent with the COVID-19 pandemic, as
scientists linked the spillover
of zoonotic viruses
to habitat
loss and exploitation of wildlife
. Yet, forest
protection
and defense
of Indigenous Peoples
domain and rights has seen major
setbacks amid the pandemic.

Deforestation in the
Brazilian Amazon climbed
to 50%
in the first quarter of 2020. Its pristine
forests have also been targeted by illegal
mining, logging
and cattle
ranching
as the government scaled
back
its protection efforts. The Indonesian, site of
world’s biggest palm-oil plantations, boasted
of West Papua as its new palm oil frontier
amid
continuing conflict and issues of fake
permits and violence against IP communities
.

More
than 300
Ogiek and 28 Sengwer
peoples in Embobut Forest, Kenya
had seen their homes demolished and burnt down by “forest
conservation” police
. In India, about 2
million forest dwellers whose
rights to land have been
rejected by the government live under the threat of
displacement in exchange for protected forest
areas.

As states and world leaders gravitate towards
the
United Nations’ 2030 plan for forests
, which plans to
expand
protected areas and national parks
, IPMSDL joins
indigenous communities and advocates in expressing alarm
over the massive
rights violations, colonial land grab and landlessness

it may bring. To discuss forest
conservation and taking care of biodiversity
without
indigenous communities at its front and center will remain
sham. Forest protection while violating the rights of IP is
a mockery of their centuries of Indigenous
knowledge, best practices and sustainable forest
management
.

In this same light, we call on to
focus in heightening the fight against all forms of
plunderous investments and projects profiting from the
destruction of our forests. Let us continue to exact
accountability from multinational companies, finance
institutions and governments that endangers the life of our
forests and indigenous communities. Most importantly, let us
not forget to demand justice for all the forest guardians
and IP martyrs who sacrificed for the future of our forests
and our planets.

Forests are our lives itself. In
celebrating our forests, the International IPMSDL continues
to bring its call forward — protecting the world forests
means defending IP rights, ancestral lands and
life!

Reference:
Beverly Longid, Global
Coordinator

info@ipmsdl.org

© Scoop Media

 



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