War over forests will escalate

"THE OLD world will burn in the fires of industry. Forests will fall. A new order will rise. We will drive the machinery of war with the sword and the spear and the iron fist of the Orc. We have only to remove those who oppose us." (Saruman, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, by JRR Tolkien).

The Orcs in our world are metaphorical, but the war over forests is real.

The Rights and Resources Initiative's (RRI) report, The End of the Hinterland: Forests, Conflict and Climate Change, describes global conflict over forest resources.

Violent clashes have arisen over forests and resources in Madagascar, Peru, Afghanistan, the Niger Delta and India. The forests of the Congo Basin are dominated by industrial interests.

Papua New Guinea is involved in carbon trading without legislative approval or monitoring. Ideals of preserving natural forests have been derailed by trade, industry and organised crime syndicates. New terminology has been created to make land-grabbing and deforestation more palatable to consumers.

The term "reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation" describes programmes that are intended to curb deforestation. But many governments are not in control of their own resources.

Multi-nationals and industries have hijacked well-intentioned environmental policies and bending these to their own purposes. Conflict between "investors" - negotiating with or bribing governments to make deals - and communities will only escalate.

Ingela Richardson, Gonubie