Climate Change

Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Global Environmental Change
Erik Gómez-Baggethun, Esteve Corbera, and Victoria Reyes-García (guest eds)
Ecology and Society special feature 18(4), 2013

This special feature of Ecology and Society addresses two main research themes. The first one concerns the resilience of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and the conditions that might explain its loss or persistence in the face of global change. The second theme relates to new findings regarding the way in which TEK strengthens community resilience to respond to the multiple stressors of global environmental change. Those themes are analyzed using case studies from Africa, Asia, America and Europe. Theoretical insights and empirical findings from the studies suggest that despite the generalized worldwide trend of TEK erosion, substantial pockets of TEK persist in both developing and developed countries. A common trend on the studies presented is hybridization, where traditional knowledge, practices, and beliefs are merged with novel forms of knowledge and technologies to create new knowledge systems. The findings also reinforce previous hypotheses pointing at the importance of TEK systems as reservoirs of experiential knowledge that can provide important insights for the design of adaptation and mitigation strategies to cope with global environmental change. Based on the results from papers in this feature, the guest editorial also discusses policy directions that might help to promote maintenance and restoration of living TEK systems as sources of social-ecological resilience. Read the issue [open access] …

Sustaining and Enhancing Forests Through Traditional Resource Management (volume 2)
Gabriel Bachange Enchaw et al, Tebtebba Foundation, 2013 | ISBN: 978-197-0186-17-4

A follow-up to an earlier compilation of case studies published in 2010, this second volume of the book Indigenous Peoples, Forests and REDD Plus: Sustaining and Enhancing Forests Through Traditional Resource Management includes six case studies. These were written by the Center of Research and Development in Upland Areas (CERDA), Vietnam; Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN), Nepal; Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Cultures of Peru (Chirapaq), Peru; Asamblea Mixe para el Desarrollo Sostenible A.C. (ASAM-DES), Mexico; Lelewal Foundation, Cameroon; and in the Philippines, by the state-run University of the Philippines Baguio, in partnership with Tebtebba. These six case studies reveal the secrets of indigenous peoples in protecting, conserving and managing their forestlands. The findings, conclusions and recommendations of the case studies all point to one thing—policy makers and development planners need to rethink or reorient their mindsets and framework towards forest management. All the case studies share something in common. They highlight how indigenous peoples regard themselves as stewards and caretakers of their forests and lands. As such, they view the land as “Mother,” which cannot be sold or traded. As responsible stewards, indigenous peoples also regard their forests and lands as sacred. The various studies cite specially designated sacred sites, which must remain untouched. These sites include areas with pristine springs, important herbs, centuries-old mother trees, and important wildlife sanctuary. And as part of their responsibility and accountability, indigenous peoples always consider the needs and interests of future generations. Indigenous governance, traditional knowledge and management systems of forests and lands are thus based on this precept. All the case studies also highlight the vital role of women in forest management or in sustainable farming. Further information, including link to publication …

Indigenous Burning as Conservation Practice: Neotropical Savanna Recovery amid Agribusiness Deforestation in Central Brazil
James R. Welch et al
PLoS One, December 2013, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081226

This study, conducted by researchers from Indiana University in the US and Brazil’s Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, has found that indigenous use of fire for hunting is an unlikely contributor to long-term carbon emissions, but it is an effective environmental management and recovery tool against agribusiness-related deforestation.

International efforts to address climate change by reducing tropical deforestation increasingly rely on indigenous reserves as conservation units and indigenous peoples as strategic partners. Considered win-win situations where global conservation measures also contribute to cultural preservation, such alliances also frame indigenous peoples in diverse ecological settings with the responsibility to offset global carbon budgets through fire suppression based on the presumed positive value of non-alteration of tropical landscapes. Anthropogenic fire associated with indigenous ceremonial and collective hunting practices in the Neotropical savannas (cerrado) of Central Brazil is routinely represented in public and scientific conservation discourse as a cause of deforestation and increased CO2 emissions despite a lack of supporting evidence. In this study, researchers evaluated this claim for the Xavante people of Pimentel Barbosa Indigenous Reserve, Brazil, using multi-temporal spatial analyses to compare land cover change under indigenous and agribusiness management over the last four decades (1973–2010) and quantifying the contemporary Xavante burning regime contributing to observed patterns based on a four year sample at the end of this sequence (2007–2010). The overall proportion of deforested land remained stable inside the reserve (0.6%) but increased sharply outside (1.5% to 26.0%). Vegetation recovery occurred where reserve boundary adjustments transferred lands previously deforested by agribusiness to indigenous management. Periodic traditional burning by the Xavante had a large spatial distribution but repeated burning in consecutive years was restricted. The results suggest a need to reassess overreaching conservation narratives about the purported destructiveness of indigenous anthropogenic fire in the cerrado. The real challenge to conservation in the fire-adapted cerrado biome is the long-term sustainability of indigenous lands and other tropical conservation islands increasingly subsumed by agribusiness expansion rather than the localized subsistence practices of indigenous and other traditional peoples. Read the article …

Traditional knowledge key in adaptation
Fiji Times, 12 December 2013

SUVA, FIJI: Traditional early warning systems used by ancestors to predict an incoming natural disaster have been an integral part of saving lives long before the introduction of technology. This was the topic of discussion among villagers at a Pacific Community Integrated Disaster Risk Reduction and Partners in Community Development Fiji workshop at Nayavuira Village in Rakiraki. PCDRR community consultant Taina Naivalu said the traditional knowledge passed on through generations would assist where technology could not, and urged village elders to pass on this knowledge to the younger generation. Read the article …

Traditional Knowledge for Adapting to Climate Change: Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Pacific
UNESCO Office for the Pacific States, International Information and Networking Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICHCAP), 2013

This information brochure has been produced to highlight examples of how intangible cultural heritage contributes to climate change adaptation efforts in the Pacific. Examples relate to traditional navigation systems, environmental resource management, vernacular architecture, and social cohesion, networks and cooperation. It is argued that adaptation to change is part of the lifestyles of the Pacific community. Traditional knowledge, values and practices (or intangible cultural heritage) underpin the ability of the Pacific community to successfully live and thrive in the Pacific environment. In synergy with other scientific knowledge, intangible cultural heritage may enhance the communities’ resilience against natural disasters and climate change. Consideration for culture should be integrated into reducing disaster risk and adapting climate change policies, plans and actions. Download the publication [pdf] …

Adaptation Toolkit: Guidebook for Researchers and Adaptation Practitioners Working with Local Communities
Gifty Ampomah, Tahia Devisscher, Energie Environnement Développement, Stockholm Environment Institute, March 2013

This toolkit aims to help conduct a climate change vulnerability assessment and develop adaptation strategies based on current capacities. Specifically, researchers are able to: identify current capacities, skills and assets in a project site, understand climate-related events in the past and coping strategies used, as well as current climatic/environmental hazards that shape vulnerability; and on this basis facilitate a multi-stakeholder process for developing locally suitable adaptation strategies. Download the guidebook [pdf] …

Mapping and Documenting Indigenous Knowledge in Climate Change Adaptation in Ghana
Benjamin A. Gyampoh, Winston A. Asante, Africa Adaptation Programme, UN Development Programme, 2011

This study assesses the extent of community observation of changes in climate and associated impacts as well as community-based approaches used in coping with the changes. For each climatic observation, the people provide evidence to support their claim as well as early, short term and long term responses to these changes. Information on local indicators for predicting climate was also collected in all the communities that were surveyed. Also important were the extent to which the community-based indicators supported rural livelihoods and coping with changes in weather patterns as well as the potential threats to these knowledge systems. Communities’ awareness of and usage of climate information was also assessed. Indigenous knowledge used in adapting to changing climate have been identified and documented as part of the findings of this study. The knowledge systems offer readily available and significant opportunities for integration into climate change adaptation programmes, including disaster risk reduction programmes. The study reveals that communities rightly observe changes in their climate and have substantial understanding on what goes on around them and how they should make adjustments to ensure their livelihoods go on. The communities are able to provide concrete evidence of the observed changes to buttress their observation. However, some of the useful indicators that have and continue to help the people know changes in their environment and adapt their livelihoods accordingly are threatened with extinction due to the enormous changes in the environment. Habitats of plants, animals, birds and insects which have played significant roles as climatic indicators are being lost or modified, resulting in most of these indicators either migrating or dying. Despite a wider awareness of the weather forecasts given by the Ghana Meteorological agency, most farmers did not plan their activities based on the weather forecast; the major reason being that they found it to be less reliable and also too general instead of being tailored to their specific communities. This makes the application of indigenous knowledge in weather prediction using traditional indicators very relevant to the rural farmer. To fully benefit from the usefulness of the indigenous knowledge, there is the need for long term studies to validate the indigenous knowledge and incorporate them into scientific knowledge systems for effective adaptation strategies. Download the publication [pdf] …

What came out of Warsaw on REDD? Part 1: The REDD decisions
REDD Monitor, 25 November 2013

WARSAW, POLAND: UNFCCC negotiators in Warsaw came to seven decisions relating to REDD, addressing: REDD+ finance; coordination of finance; national forest monitoring systems; summary of information on safeguards; forest reference emission levels; measuring, reporting and verification of forest-related emissions; and drivers of deforestation and forest degradation. Read the article, including links to the full text of the decisions …

The Warsaw Framework for REDD Plus: The decision on REDD finance
REDD Monitor, 29 November 2013

This post looks at the Warsaw decision on REDD finance (work programme on results-based finance to progress the full implementation of the activities referred to in decision 1/CP.16, paragraph 70). Read the post …

The Warsaw Framework for REDD Plus: The decision on coordination of REDD finance
REDD Monitor, 4 December 2013

This post looks at the decision on coordination of REDD finance (Coordination of support for the implementation of activities in relation to mitigation actions in the forest sector by developing countries, including institutional arrangements). Read the post …

The Warsaw Framework for REDD Plus: The decision on national forest monitoring systems
REDD Monitor, 10 December 2013

This post looks at the decision on modalities for national forest monitoring systems. The text states that national forest monitoring systems should “enable the assessment of different types of forest in the country, including natural forest, as defined by the Party.” Read the post …

Guest Post: A pathetic REDD package
REDD Monitor, 3 December 2013

In this post, Simone Lovera, Global Forest Coalition, describes the Warsaw Framework for REDD+ as “the weakest text any international forest-related body has ever adopted.” Read the post …

Two very different views on the Warsaw REDD deal from Indigenous Peoples organisations
REDD Monitor, 7 December 2013

This post comments on two very different reactions to the Warsaw Framework for REDD from two indigenous peoples organizations. The first, from the Indigenous Peoples Biocultural Climate Change Assessment Initiative (IPCCA) is critical. The second, from the Tebtebba Foundation, is optimistic. Read the post, including links to the releases by IPCCA and Tebtebba …

REDD+ Learning Session 18: The Warsaw REDD+ Framework – COP 19 Results
WWF Forest and Climate Programme, December 2013

In this webinar, archived from a session that took place on 5 December 2013, Josefina Brana-Varela, Policy Director of WWF’s global Forest and Climate Programme; Hermine Kleymann, Program Officer for REDD Policy at WWF-Germany; and John O. Niles, Director for Climate and Forests with WWF-US, discuss REDD+ outcomes from the recent UNFCCC COP19 climate change talks in Warsaw, Poland and outline potential next steps. Follow the webinar …

Mapping UNFCCC REDD+: a visual guide to the systems and structures supporting REDD+ within the UNFCCC
WWF, Union of Concerned Scientists, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, November 2013

This visual guide includes graphs on: REDD+ design elements necessary to obtain and receive results-based finance; REDD+ national strategy or action plan; national forest monitoring systems; national forest reference emissions levels and/or forest reference levels; measurement, reporting and verification; nationally appropriate mitigation actions; international consultation and analysis; and safeguard information systems. Download the guide [pdf] …

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