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Deforestation is a significant issue in Panama, specifically on indigenous Guna territory, as well as in protected and non-protected areas. Catherine Potvin, biologist at McGill University, works with the Guna people of Panama on issues of deforestation. Her research suggests that there is a lower rate of deforestation on protected areas and indigenous territories. She explains how this knowledge can help inform strategies adopted by the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program.

READ: Forest protection and tenure status: The key role of Indigenous peoples and protected areas in Panama (2014) – G. Vergara-Asenjo and Catherine Potvin

CICADA researcher Catherine Potvin, professor of Biology at McGill University.
CICADA researcher Catherine Potvin, professor of Biology at McGill University.

 

In June of 2013, the Guna General Congress, the traditional Guna authority, banned REDD+ and forbade Guna organizations from participating in this program’s activities. Potvin explores why this falling out occurred.

Measuring a tree's biomass, which, along with soil, is where carbon is primarily fixed and stored in the forest. Source: Catherine Potvin, Canada Research Chair on Climate Change Mitigation and Tropical Forests.
Measuring a tree’s biomass, which, along with soil, is where carbon is primarily fixed and stored in the forest. Source: Catherine Potvin, Canada Research Chair on Climate Change Mitigation and Tropical Forests.

We believe that this crisis stems from a failure to build REDD+ capacity for indigenous people at all levels: it is time to pay more than life service to their full and effective participation in REDD+.”

Curb indigenous fears of REDD+ (2014)Catherine Potvin and J. Mateo-Vega

 

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