Asia Community Forestry Rights Declaration Manila, Philippines June 29-July 3, 2015


Saturday 4th of July 2015

Our vision and who we are

We envision empowered forest community rights’ holders of Asia region fully owning and have enhanced capacities to manage their community forests. We envision ourselves having a strong collective voice and inclusive process to promote our rights and aspirations at the national and regional levels.

We the representatives of local communities including indigenous peoples, women, youth and marginalized groups, and support government and non-government agencies including funding institutions, affiliated to diverse forms and modalities of network at local, sub-national, national and regional levels, dependent on or having legitimate stakes and rights over local forest resources, gathered in Manila to discuss issues, opportunities at individual national level as well as regional/international level and arrived at a collective understanding over the following points of action and future direction with regard to promoting the rights and agendas of local people at national and global levels.

Preamble

Whereas community forestry rights are founded on the United Nation’s Declaration on Human Rights,

Whereas recognition of the equitable rights of group and individual community forestry members is the foundation of strong community forestry development and vital in strengthening networks and association in Asia and beyond,

Whereas disregard of these rights have resulted in land grabbing and re-consolidation, elite capture of benefits at local and national levels, widening of the gap between rich and poor and increased poverty in the rural areas,

Whereas it is vital, if community forestry is to become successful, for governments and funding institutions to provide enabling conditions that will ensure local people’s rights to organize into networks and associations, and be heard without discrimination,

Whereas it is vital, for communities to claim and practice these rights without fear of retribution,

Whereas the members, groups and individuals, of the Global Alliance of Community Forestry Southeast Asia reaffirm their commitment in the fulfillment of the Katmandu and Bangkok declarations of 2008 and 2010 respectively,

Whereas members have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with partners and support groups, the promotion of community forestry and the inherent rights associated with it, as a sustainable forest management approach in Southeast Asia and beyond,

Now, therefore the Global Alliance of Community Forestry Asia proclaims this Declaration as a common standard of achievement for all its members in the pursuit of fair and equal rights for all forest-dependent communities in Asia and beyond, to fully exercise the rights that are already at hand and fight for the rights that still need to be recognized, respected and formalized, and we shall never surrender nor waiver in our pursuit towards our goal.

Article 1 Definition of terms

We define local communities in this Declaration as local and indigenous/ethnic people including smallholders, farmers and family forest owners.

We, the local communities, define community forestry in this Declaration as the provision of access, use, management, exclusion and alienation rights to community members supported by technical, human and material resources.

Article 2 Community forestry

We demand governments and funding institutions to adopt community forestry as a priority approach in sustainable forest management as community forestry has demonstrated undeniable success in…(?)

 Article 3 Bundle of rights

We believe that community forestry will only be fully successful if access, use, management, exclusion and alienation rights, also known in this Declaration as the Bundle of Rights are provided with technical, financial, legal, material and human resources support from various sectors and stakeholders. And that the rules and regulations that will govern these rights should be subject to the principles of self-determination.

Article 4 Local and Indigenous people’s rights

We demand the governments and funding institutions to respect local and indigenous people’s rights in accordance to the United Nation’s Declarations on Human Rights and the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples.

Article 5 Quality of forest lands

We firmly believe that the execution of the community forestry bundle of rights, local and indigenous people’s rights, and the necessary support can only succeed and be meaningful if the forest lands being awarded to us are in good conditions.

Article 6 Protection of rights

We demand the governments and funding institutions to exercise the full extent of their powers to ensure that we are fully aware of our rights and for these rights including the property rights of forest owner, to be protected from re-consolidation, abuse, misinterpretation and lengthy bureaucratic procedures. We demand governments and funding institutions to work with us in finding reasonable alternatives in the processing of legal documents pertinent to community forestry. And we demand to be equitably compensated if our rights are violated or circumvented.

Article 7 Grievance mechanism and conflict management and resolution

We demand the governments and funding institutions to ensure that a mechanism exists to manage and resolve conflicts such as but not limited to boundary issues, between us and powerful individuals, groups and other entities who will try to take away our rights, in accordance with their commitments to VGGT rule number 4.

Article 8 Livelihood development
We demand the governments and funding institutions to respect our traditional sustainable livelihood practices such as shifting cultivation and to provide us the necessary technical and material support to further improve such practices and to contribute to household income beyond subsistence level. In addition, we demand governments and funding institutions to provide the necessary mechanisms and support to develop commercially sustainable forest enterprises, and ensure that communities have access to fair markets. We demand governments, funding institutions and other entities to work with us in better understanding our traditional livelihood practices so that they are formally and legally recognized as a vital component of sustainable forest management approaches.

Article 9 Local participation

We demand the governments and funding institutions to ensure that their processes and procedures include substantial inputs and the full, effective and active participation of the local communities e.g. policy and decision making processes, mapping and membership to technical working groups. We also firmly believe that effective participation and equitable distribution of resources can be achieved through the decentralization of power at the local level.

Article 10 Gender and social inclusion

We as a network shall work towards the inclusion and active participation of women and marginalized groups in all our decision-making processes, and promote these inclusive practices in government and funding institutions procedures.

Adopted and promulgated in Manila, Philippines, July 3, 2015.

Signed by:

Cambodia

Indonesia

Lao PDR

Myanmar

Nepal

Thailand

Vietnam

Program

calendar/events

29 June
Asia Regional Workshop and Study Tour on Community Forestry Rights and Strengthening Forest Users Associations
21 March
International Day of Forest
09 March
Conference on Family Forestry Owners