Advisor: Michael Dove
As REDD, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, initiatives gain momentum world-wide, strong opposition to these initiatives has been expressed by various indigenous and human rights organizations. These groups have claimed that such projects will infringe upon indigenous peoples’ rights, ignore respect for the principles of free, prior and informed consent, and have yet to include the requirements for progressive forest sector tenure and governance reforms required for the protection of these communities’ resources. Since a great amount of tropical forests lie within indigenous communities’ territories, it is clear that REDD proposals will not be able to actively link developing nations into a distinctive role within the global carbon cycle and fight against climate change unless these groups’ concerns and reservations are adequately addressed.
The country of Ecuador provides an ideal background with which to explore these issues as its government launched a national pre-REDD initiative called “Socio-Bosque” in December of 2007 which has managed to enlist various indigenous communities into its program and at the same time has received criticism from national indigenous movement and human rights organizations, analogous to what has transpired at the global level. This research project thereby seeks to clarify how REDD project frameworks may begin to address indigenous communities’ apprehensions by understanding what the specific concerns and reservations of local indigenous communities are with regards to REDD projects using the Ecuadorian Socio Bosque program as a pilot study. This will also allow for an examination of some the best practices and advantages in working with indigenous communities this project has had to date. Remote sensing provides an invaluable tool with which to monitor and verify progress made on the ground for these projects, as well as helping determine which areas are the most adequate to participate.