Indigenous and Maroon communities share their vision for Suriname’s REDD+ Vision and Strategy

Indigenous and Maroon communities share their vision for Suriname’s REDD+ Vision and Strategy

Suriname - 04 September, 2018

Unspoilt rainforest covers nearly the entire area of Suriname. The forest offers opportunities to boost the national economy and raise people’s living standards, but only if it is used in a sustainable way. The country’s participation in the United Nations REDD+ programme offers opportunities to contribute to this sustainability.

Tropenbos Suriname has been involved with the development of Suriname’s REDD+ Readiness programme since 2013. The focus has been on strengthening the capacity of indigenous and Maroon tribal communities in order to make sure that their concerns are considered and that they too will benefit from future REDD+ projects. This is important, because Suriname lacks legal regulations for land rights, forest co-management and effective participation. Unplanned economic development, such as the expansion of interior roads, hydropower dams and gold mines, threatens wildlife, people’s livelihoods and ecosystem services.

Between May and October 2017, TBI visited thirteen areas that are home to indigenous and tribal communities. Project organisers spoke with 675 people — 365 men and 310 women — about their priorities for the future and the risks and benefits they perceived in the proposed REDD+ strategy. The men focused on road infrastructure, commercial logging and the need for collective land rights. The women were mostly concerned with education opportunities, availability of drinking water and electricity, and the development of handicrafts and agriculture to provide a sustainable income. The participants appreciated the employment that REDD+ projects may generate and the opportunities for management and protection of the forest. At the same time, they expressed their concern about the potential undermining of legal recognition of land rights by REDD+ and the weak enforcement of new legislation on community forests and protected areas.

The information gathered during TBI’s consultations — especially the need for collective land rights, sustainable income generation, education and gender equity — was used as input for the National REDD+ Vision and Strategy document and the Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment. The latter identifies environmental and social risks and incorporates mitigation measures in an Environment and Social Monitoring Framework. The framework is used as a monitoring tool during the implementation of the REDD+ strategy. Approval of the national REDD+ strategy by the government of Suriname and the national assembly is expected in mid-2018.

Published in the Annual Report 2017

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