Friday, October 19, 2007

Pygmies using technology to protect their habitats

Pygmies joint venture with logging companies and use GPS systems for monitoring

When Congo Republic's northern pygmies go out into the forest these days, some will be carrying handheld satellite tracking devices (Global Positioning Systems) along with their traditional bows and spears.

Using GPS handsets to pinpoint sacred sites and hunting areas, the nomadic forest dwellers are literally putting themselves on the map to protect their livelihoods and habitat against the chainsaws and bulldozers of commercial loggers.

Through the scheme, northern Congo's Mbendjele Yaka people and the central African country's largest logging company are working in an unusual alliance to ensure the forest areas crucial to the pygmies' daily lives are left standing.

Read more here

Thursday, October 18, 2007

More news about the Plight of the Pygmies

On October 21,2007
A Pygmy delegation from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) met with senior World Bank Group managers including the Vice President for Africa and the Vice President for Sustainable Development, and informally afterwards with President Robert B. Zoellick.
The delegation discussed the implementation status of ongoing forest sector reforms in DRC, and ways in which the World Bank could strengthen its collaboration with local communities and protect the rights and way of life of forest-dependent people, including Pygmies.
Logging and rehabilitation of infrastructure seem to threaten the rainforests - a source of income, food, fuel, medicine, and shelter for their communities. The rainforests also fulfill the cultural and spiritual needs of forest-dependent people, while providing environmental services such as absorbing carbon, the greenhouse gas, on a global scale.
Talk about organizing from the ground up. Only local communities who live issues and challenges can truly share what their experiences are and as such contribute to possible solutions.

245 - Earth's Tree News

"We are going to Washington to tell the World Bank that they must not allow any expansion of the logging industry," pygmy spokesman Adrian Sinafasi said in a statement released by the Rainforest Foundation, which is accompanying the delegation. "We have been stewards of these forests for many generations and to lose them now would be utterly devastating."

The delegation hopes to meet new World Bank President Robert Zoellick, who has said that protecting the environment and indigenous peoples will be two of his main priorities. Since the restoration of peace in most of the former Zaire after a 1998-2003 war, the World Bank has promoted logging as a way of quickly rebuilding the country's shattered economy.

Last week's leaked report -- prompted by a complaint from the pygmies -- criticised the bank for failing to follow its own guidelines on environmental impact assessments, on the verification of logging areas, and on policing. It also accused it of hugely overestimating the potential benefits to the pygmies. The Rainforest Foundation, a charity whose mission is to support indigenous peoples in the world's rainforests, said more than 40 million Congolese depended on the rainforests for their livelihood. "The indigenous `Pygmy' people of the Congo have fought hard to have their voices heard. The recent Inspection Panel report was instigated by these people and the findings have shamed the World Bank," said director Simon Counsell. "Now the `Pygmies' have the chance to meet face to face with the organisation that risked devastating their forests. Hopefully President Zoellick and his colleagues will listen to what we have to say and commit to working with them to protect Congo's forests in the future."
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