Defending community management of forests and agroforestry in Colombia
“What makes the difference between community management of forests and other types of management, like payments for environmental services or offsetting, is that in the first case everything is defined by how the people value the territory; they are not influenced by the fact that there is some kind of payment or because someone will compensate them in any way. Basically, what prevails is the people’s concern for their community”.
Diego Alejandro, member of CENSAT-Agua Viva (Friends of the Earth Colombia), explains the principle of community management during an interview with Real World Radio in September 2016.
The National Meeting on Community Management of Forests and Territories took place in the city of Lorica, Córdoba, from 16 to 19 September 2016. It was organised by CENSAT together with other organisations. The activity is part of the assessment that the Global Forest Coalition started two years ago in different countries of the Global South to identify the conditions and threats that the so-called “community resilience initiatives” face.
When speaking about one of the experiences on management – the peasant and community reserves network of Santander, in the Northeast of Colombia – Diego highlights the fact that this principle is substantially different from the concept of conservation:
“Conservation here is not something strict, something that prevents people from coming into the forest, touching or making use of a tree; on the contrary, people think ‘this is the site we are protecting, and it is also the site that provides us with a series of benefits; so, there they produce honey, they investigate and grow their crops under the forest, they experiment and exchange species, and they harvest’”.
Asked about the relationship between these initiatives and the peace negotiations in Colombia, Diego states that
“there is a deep concern about the possibility of more extraction projects coming in strongly after a possible peace accord. Anyway, we support a possible negotiated solution. As a matter of fact, ideas or initiatives like the one of community management are a chance for the people to stay in the territory, to be prepared and to have cultural ties that help them confront spoliation attempts”.