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Global Biodiversity Framework and tribals

Will global forest expansion hit tribals?

The article discusses concerns over the Global Biodiversity Framework-forest expansion goals impacting India’s tribal communities. It highlights potential displacements and challenges to indigenous rights.

Introduction

The Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) aims to increase forest cover, inland water, coastal, and marine areas to at least 30% of the world’s terrestrial area. However, concerns arise about its implications, especially for India’s tribal communities.

The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF)

The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was adopted during the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in December 2022. It sets ambitious goals for 2050 and targets for 2030 to achieve sustainable development. Notably, Target 3 aims to increase protected areas to 30% of the world’s terrestrial area, up from the current 16%.

Implications of GBF

The Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF)’s goals may favor corporate interests over indigenous communities. In Southeast Asia, indigenous peoples face challenges like denial of housing, health, education, and land rights due to protected area expansions. Private sector involvement, as seen in Cambodia, has led to land sales and reduced protections for indigenous lands. The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act of 2023 in India also includes activities like zoos and ecotourism as forest activities, further complicating the issue.

Concerns for India

In India, 84% of national parks are located in areas inhabited by indigenous peoples. Meeting GBF targets could threaten these communities’ existence. Initiatives like upgrading the Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary in Rajasthan to a tiger reserve or expanding the Nauradehi Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh would displace tribal villages. For example, the Barak Bhuban Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam affects indigenous groups like the Khasis and Dimasas, despite their documented historical presence in the area.

Conclusion

The push for global forest expansion through the GBF raises significant concerns for India’s tribal communities. Balancing conservation goals with indigenous rights remains a complex challenge that requires careful consideration and inclusive decision-making.

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