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Natural Resources, Environment and Landscape Management (3): Communities and networks

Saturday 21 March 2015, 0900 – 1100, Auditorium 3

Part 3 of 3. View Part 1 and Part 2.

Jeff Burley
University of Oxford

Mohd. Nor Salleh
Past-President, Malaysian Nature Society and former Director General, FRIM, Malaysia.

These panels consider the role of natural resources in economic and social development and their influence on environmental changes.

Paper 1: Conservation of natural resources and the environment in Southeast Asia: issues and challenges

Salleh, Mohd. Nor
Past-President, Malaysian Nature Society and former Director General, FRIM, Malaysia.

Many countries in Southeast Asia aspire to be “developed” countries but in the process, the environment and natural resources are sacrificed by unsustainable and what appears as ad hoc development. As a result the people of the region are faced with numerous environmental challenges. The classic case is the regular occurrences of haze that clouds many countries in SEA due to forest conversion for development of oil palm plantations. This transboundary phenomenon is becoming too regular for comfort and is a health hazard especially for the elderly, young and sick. The introduction of alien species of trees such as Acacia mangium is a threat to the natural forests and so is rubber although rubber had provided much benefit in the past. The introduction of alien species of fish such as the tallapia for cage culture, is a cause of concern. The development of hills and mountain resorts without proper consideration to environmental impacts have caused landslides and floods downstreams. Compounding this is the threat of global climate change. While environmental and conservation policies and legislation exist in many countries, implementation and enforcement of the law is always an issue of concern. To make it worse, corrupt practices does not make it easier!

Paper 2: Community forestry in ASEAN countries and its role in bringing benefit and empowering local people

Tomi Haryadi
RECOFTC – The Center for People and Forests, Thailand

Community forestry refers to the involvement of local communities in the protection and/or management of public forests (Rath, 2010), with the intent to prevent degradation from overuse, promote sustainable forest management and respond to the basic social and economic needs of local people. In theory, when the people who depend upon forest resources are jointly responsible for managing and protecting them, they tend to do so in a more sustainable manner by focusing on the long-term benefits rather than the immediate short-term gains.

In contrast, where tenure rights are weak, unclear or insecure or offer limited benefits, people are provoked to extract immediate benefits, resulting in suboptimal forest management and the reduction of carbon stocks. The transfer of forest ownership, management and user rights to local people is therefore expected to lead to improvements in forest protection and conditions as well as improved livelihoods. There is considerable evidence in the literature to suggest that when local people acquire secure tenure and forest management rights and receive adequate benefits from forest resources, this indeed leads to improved forest management, conservation of biodiversity and stronger local livelihoods (FAO, 2006; FAO, 2011; Sikor et al., 2013).

Community management of forests has been shown to improve forest conditions and levels of forest biomass (Skutsch and Solis, 2010). Documented experiences in ASEAN countries demonstrate that community forestry has positive outcomes on both forest quality and local livelihoods. In Myanmar for example, community forest management has contributed to improvements in forest conditions and increased livelihood benefits for local people. Similar cases in the Philippines and Indonesia have shown positive contribution of social forestry towards livelihoods improvement of local people.

Paper 3: Emerging new configurations of cooperative applied learning for climate action within an Asian interfaith spectrum: Community-Based Climate Change Adaptation and the creative approaches to strengthening of local community climate resilience capacities

Emilie Parry
University of Oxford

The issue of climate change adaptation and resilience, and the perceived failure of international governing institutions to make gainful progress in decision-making, funding, policy or action on climate change issues, is gathering increasing attention within political, academic and public discourse. Ideally, the existing international and state governmental and NGO institutions could provide leadership, support, resources and solutions to local communities struggling to cope with climate change. This perceived failure by institutions to do so, has produced a space of institutional fluidity or plasticity∗*, and opened up a window of opportunity for new cooperative configurations around climate change work. Historically, similar critical junctures led to new movements for justice/change by engaging with and through existing governmental and non-governmental institutions, such as with the Indigenous Rights movement, the International Labour movement, or the internationalization of conservation movements. The present paper argues that, strikingly distinct from these past periods of institutional fluidity and critical junctures, an emerging international yet local-to-local (and largely “South-South”) climate justice and resilience movement, framed by systems of eco-spiritual philosophy and inter-religious common ground, avoids the trappings of path dependency and circumvents traditional state-centric governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental institutions. This paper asserts that by delinking from institutional path dependencies, the climate adaptation and resilience efforts of these emerging affiliations create more effective, inclusive, holistic, appropriate and viable methods, with potentially replicable learning models where currently yawns wide a gap in climate resilience knowledge for policy, practice, or funding. Actors within these “organic,” loosely structured networks include grassroots, religious, academic, environmentalist and other local actors as well as those individuals within these perceived global and state “climate-failing institutions” seeking another way to contribute to solutions on the climate change front.

This research hypothesizes that this delinking has allowed for informal relationship-building between individuals and groups otherwise separated by the walls of “siloed” structures of existing humanitarian, environmental and development institutions, contributing to an overall reconfiguration of relationships between existing institutions and local community actors. Furthermore, the eco-spiritual philosophical and inter-faith frame shifts emphasis to compassionate cooperation and solidarity for the Well-Being of all involved actors, and facilitate creatively innovative approaches for coping with climate change, very much needed within the larger climate change community. This study argues that, at this crucial juncture with this distinctive reconfiguration of international local-to-local cooperation, it is essential to draw lessons from these emerging formations not only to identify what may be replicable and to inform policy makers’, NGOs’ and donors’ work in climate change, but also to articulate the new pathologies of assembly, to identify potential funding and policy mechanisms that protect and support effective yet looser and organic affiliations without co-opting and potentially destroying them through integration into existing systems which do not serve them, or climate resilience, well.


Paper 4: Evidence supporting land use policy decisions

Gillian Petrokofsky
University of Oxford

The pressure on land use over the next 40 years will be great as global population size increases and many people become wealthier, creating demands on natural resources to support energy and resource-intensive lifestyles. The effects of climate change will become increasingly apparent and globalisation will expose the food system to novel economic and political pressures. Science from forestry, agriculture, development and other boundary disciplines is needed to provide relevant and credible evidence that can help inform emerging policy and practice. This involves using existing research more effectively, in addition to developing new research. The increasing focus on integrated ‘landscape’ solutions also requires collaboration across disciplines and between stakeholders. The relations between science, policy and practice are not linear and there is scope for integration between these disciplines at all stages of the policy cycle, including the stage at which evidence is assessed. Systematic reviews, described as ‘critical links in the great chain of evidence’ because they use transparent protocols that follow a recognised scientific approach, overcome problems inherent in single studies that ‘cherry-pick’ the evidence. Case studies will be presented of recent and ongoing systematic reviews that elucidate how a scientific approach to evidence evaluation can add value to past knowledge and help inform land use policy and practice.