Marcus Colchester, Senior Policy Advisor, Forest Peoples Programme
Speaker Information: Marcus Colchester’s primary work has focused on securing indigenous people’s rights to their lands and livelihoods by pressing for policy change at grass-roots, national, and international levels. His initial work at the national level in Venezuela focused on indigenous land rights, health, bilingual education, and development policy. Colchester also initiated a successful process to establish a protected area in the Upper Orinoco.
His work with the World Rainforest Movement concentrates on promoting indigenous networks and supporting indigenous control of forests at the same time that he presses for changes in development policy and projects that threaten these objectives.
Abstract: As many as 1.5 billion people depend on forests for their daily livelihoods and as many as 600 million of these are long term forest residents many with customary rights. The earliest ‘forests’, as legal jurisdictions, sought to exclude communities from areas reserved for royal hunts and limit people’s access and use of forest resources. This exclusionary model of forests, which came to favour commercial forestry, was exported across the world in the colonial era. Since the 1970’s there has been a growing global recognition of the need to right this wrong in the name of poverty alleviation and sustainable forest management. In practice much ‘social forestry’ has continued to deny rights and entrench inequities but progress is being made to reform forest tenures and restore genuine community control and diversified forest use.