Rainforests are the lungs of our earth. Their protection is crucial to halt biodiversity loss, tackle climate change, reduce the risk of disaster, and sustain the cultural and livelihood practices of Indigenous Peoples and forest-dependent communities. Yet globally, they are disappearing at an alarming rate.
It is estimated that since 2002, the tropics have lost more than 60 million hectares of primary forests. Land grabbing for agro commodities such as oil palm, sugar cane, rubber and other fast growing timber species is the leading cause of deforestation in the Asia Pacific. Additionally, logging and agro commodities corporations are rampantly encroaching into customary territories of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. This often takes place without the Free Prior Informed Consent of local and Indigenous communities. Moreover, the current Covid-19 pandemic has caused an increase of forest grabbing for agro commodities, destructive development projects and infrastructure expansion. The subsequent habitat loss is driving human-wildlife conflict and is further threatening endangered species.
Despite these threats, national governments and global governance bodies have failed to bring a sustainable solution to combating deforestation. Instead, market mechanisms, such as financialisation of nature, that ultimately benefit big business and environmental exploiters, are presented as false solutions.
Therefore, on this World Rainforest Day (June 22), Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific encourage communities worldwide to heighten the struggle and raise voice to protect our precious natural rainforests. We call on global leaders to ensure greater governance to curb land grabbing, deforestation and reduce the mismanagement of forest resources. We call for community-based and Indigenous led solutions that recognise and uphold the rights of traditional land owners. And we demand increased protection for environmental defenders who risk their lives to protect these forests.
Read more about land grabbing in our report ‘The Laws of Land Grabs in Asia Pacific.’