Forests, Food & Climate
At first I thought I was fighting to save rubber tress, then I thought I was fighting to save the Amazon rainforest. Now I realise I am fighting for our humanity.Chico Mendes, rubber tapper turned activist, Brazil. Assasinated December 1988.
Our forests, food and climate are all inextricably linked. Gaia's approach to reviving and protecting the world's forests; to promoting local, small-scale and organic agriculture; and to learning to be resilient to the changes in our climate, stems from our understanding of the interconnectedness of these systems.
A Cycle of Destruction
The modern crops have overtaken our indigenous crops due to the fact that they can be exported. Our indigenous crops were good for our own consumption but we cannot eat coffee Kenyan Farmer, Karima Forest
In addition, the industrial agriculture lobby is aggressively promoting itself as the salvation for feeding a growing population and tackling climate change. In fact, industrial agriculture and our gloabalised food system are responsible for an astonishing 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. The single worst contributor of any sector. This is why food sovereignty is so essential.
Mutually Enhancing Symbiosis
To understand the critical role of forests for communities across the world, one need only speak to them. For community Elders from Africa, Asia and Latin America, the role of forests is clear. They explain how their local forests are vital sources of rain for their crops. Many of these are forests which have been protected as sacred sites for centuries. They also explain the cycles of planting and harvesting, and how rituals in these forests are peppered through these cycles in order to assure a good harvest. These rituals are vital laws and lores which act to maintain and protect the vitality and relationship between seeds, soils, biodiversity, forests and climate. These ancient practices are testimony to local and indigenous community's understanding of the inextricable relationship between forests, food and climate.
While we know what the most efficient and ethical way is to produce food to assure forests, food and climate stability for future generations, global economic forces are escalating the crisis and the prices of food. Landgrabbing is not only destroying agricultural land but forests too; market speculation leads to more landgrabbing; and false solutions to climate change such as biofuels, triggers both.
Our work with partners and communities recognises that our forests, food and climate are part of a dynamic system. In the context of the global climate change crisis, Gaia believes that there are two main actions which are required in order for indigenous and local communities to ensure that they are resilient:
- > Ecosystems need to be regenerated as a priority by restoring their biodiversity, especially along forests, riverbanks, mountain slopes, wetlands, lakes, springs, etc.
- > Farming systems need to enhance both agro- biodiversity and wild biodiversity and protect critical ecosystem features, such as rivers and forests. This is the role which, traditionally, sacred sites and sacred groves play - safeguarding areas where wild biodiversity can flourish.
In order for this to happen, communities need to regain control of their farming and food systems - what we call Food Sovereignty.
Find out more about how we are working with partners and communities by clicking on stories and case studies on the left hand side.