Global Land News - looking back over the past month

I’ve been in a whirlwind of travelling, so I didn’t have a chance to post the highlights from the past month of global land news stories. Here is a selection of stories - see the full archive online at :earth_africa:

There are some great new resources, and some high profile article here. Any reactions or questions that you want to share?

Global: RSPO Audits Rife with ‘Mistakes and Fraud,’ Report Finds

November 18, 2015
in: Corporate Social Responsibility, Corruption, Land Grab

The report, titled, “Who watches the watchmen? Auditors and the breakdown of oversight in the RSPO,” uncovered evidence of RSPO-approved auditors conducting “substandard assessments” on repeated occasions and, at times, apparently colluding with oil palm companies to cover up serious violations of the organization’s standards.

Brazil: TIAA-CREF, U.S. Investment Giant, Accused of Land Grabs in Brazil

November 16, 2015
in: Corporate Social Responsibility, Forest, Land Grab
Related Links: U.S. Pension Fund Under Pressure to go Public with Brazil Land Deals

The American financial giant and its Brazilian partners have plowed hundreds of millions of dollars into farmland deals in the cerrado, a huge region on the edge of the Amazon rain forest where wooded savannas are being razed to make way for agricultural expansion, fueling environmental concerns.

Global: Interactive Map to Help Secure Land Rights

November 10, 2015
in: Community Rights, Forest, Indigenous, Land Reform, Mapping

Indigenous peoples whose land rights have often been exploited due to lack of maps and data have a new tool to help secure their rights: a global interactive map of the land they claim called LandMark.

India: Indigenous Peoples Organise to Protect Forests, Waters and Commons

November 7, 2015
in: Corporate Social Responsibility, Indigenous, Land Dispute, Legislation

…Meanwhile, two state governments have begun implementing a much different set of guidelines on ‘Participation of Private Sector in Afforestation of Degraded Forests’ – issued in August without any interference – that allow the private sector to manage 40% of forests for profit at the expense of indigenous forest dwellers.

Latin America: New Analysis Reveals Substantial Economic Benefits of Securing Community Rights to Rainforests in Brazil and Guatemala

November 4, 2015
in: Community Rights, Conservation, Forest
Related Links: How rainforest land rights could tackle climate change and boost economies

The relatively modest investments needed to secure the forest rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities will generate significant returns—economically, socially and environmentally—according to new research by World Resources Institute. The working paper, The Economic Costs and Benefits of Securing Community Forest Tenure: Evidence from Brazil and Guatemala, finds that one of the biggest impacts is in global benefits realized through avoided CO2 emissions from deforestation.

Belize: BZ$300,000 towards demarcation of Maya homeland

November 3, 2015
in: Customary Law, Indigenous, Land Titles, Legislation

A landmark CCJ ruling handed down Friday morning has ordered unprecedented reparations to the Toledo Maya for a breach of their constitutional right to protection of the law.

Latin America: Individual Titles Might Not Be the Answer

November 3, 2015
in: Community Rights, Customary Law, Indigenous, Land Titles

…in parts of the Amazon, an individual land title may not provide as much security as widely assumed, and social relationships can have more power than a piece of paper. These are some of the findings of a study that compared collective and individual land titling in Peru and Ecuador and their effects on tenure security, conducted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Indonesia: Government Allocates Land, Housing for Anak Dalam Tribe

November 2, 2015
in: Dams, Forest, Indigenous, Landlessness

The government will provide 500 houses for Jambi’s nomadic Anak Dalam tribe, also known as Orang Rimba, as permanent shelters on a 1,000-hectare plot of land outside of forest areas.

Global: Just Conservation? Justice, Conservation, and the Protected Areas Frenzy

November 2, 2015
in: Conservation, Eviction, Food Security, Indigenous, Landlessness

Echoing the pleas of illegally displaced tribal peoples in a number of countries, a leading human rights NGO has called the loss of home, livelihoods, culture and customary rights in the name of conservation, “one of the most urgent and horrific humanitarian crises of our time”

Vietnam: VRG stripped of accreditation

October 28, 2015
in: Forest, Land Grab

A giant Vietnamese rubber company that has faced repeated accusations of illegal land and forest grabbing in Cambodia has been stripped of its accreditation as a sustainable forestry product supplier by the world’s leading forest certification body.

Philippines: Mindanao Land Grabs to Worsen with Palm Oil Expansion Plan

October 27, 2015
in: Conflict, Customary Law, Land Grab

Mariano said the political unrest and people’s resistance in Mindanao will continue to intensify as the government plans to auction more than one million hectares of land in Mindanao to local and foreign palm oil corporations.

Papua New Guinea: APEC Forestry Ministers Meeting Marred by Illegal Logging

October 27, 2015
in: Forest, Land Dispute, Land Reform

Forestry activists are hoping to use the APEC Forestry Ministers meeting in Papua New Guinea to pressure local authorities to cancel controversial leases used in the country’s illegal logging trade.

Kenya: A World Bank-Backed Project Threatens A Way Of Life

October 26, 2015
in: Community Rights, Conservation, Customary Law, Eviction, Indigenous

Instead of following Rai’s proposals, the World Bank rewrote the plan for the forest conservation project, backing away from key language that committed Kenya’s government to help the Sengwer obtain formal titles to the land they had long occupied. With the new strategy in place, Kenyan authorities continued evicting the Sengwer from the forest.

Paraguay: Indigenous Fight For Survival Against Land Grabs

October 24, 2015
in: Forest, Indigenous, Land Dispute, Land Grab

The Indigenous community Cuyabia, located in the northeast region of Chaco, have said they will resort to road blocks and marches in order to urge the Paraguay government to finalize the legal demarcation of their lands, which they say is being seized by multinationals.

Uganda: Government Plans to Issue Titles for All Customary Land

October 24, 2015
in: Customary Law, Indigenous, Land Titles, Mapping

Uganda will use part of the $54 million concessional loan it received from the World Bank to start registering customary land owners.

Africa: The Myth of the African Land Grab

October 20, 2015
in: Corporate Social Responsibility, Land Dispute, Land Grab

New data compiled by researchers in Senegal suggests that dramatic figures, which are usually compiled and reported by activist groups opposed to large-scale land deals, are vastly overblown. While the opacity of land transfers means that nobody knows for certain how much land has actually changed hands in Africa, a mounting body of evidence points to a recurring pattern in which insecure property rights and political disputes cause initially euphoric global investors to cancel proposed deals or walk away from farming projects across the continent.

Kenya: Don’t Miss Unique Opportunity to Reform Land Management System

October 12, 2015
in: Land Reform, Legislation

Discussions are currently going on across the country on the long-awaited land reforms. Sadly, the comments of some leaders indicate that they are unfamiliar with the proposed land laws. Although, the proposed laws have certain weaknesses, Parliament should not miss this opportunity to systematise land reform.

Nigeria: ERA, Communities Decry Indiscriminate Land Use By Multinationals

October 12, 2015
in: Community Rights, Eviction, Land Grab

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has expressed dismay by the activities of most big multinational companies in the country over the trend of forcefully denying their host communities the use of their lands without compensation.

Africa: Chinese Firms Buy, Lease Far Less African Farmland Than Thought

October 12, 2015
in: Corporate Social Responsibility, Land Grab

Contrary to reports that Chinese firms were buying or leasing millions of hectares of prime African farmland, Chinese investors have acquired only about 240,000 hectares…

Liberia: Riot on the Plantation

October 4, 2015
in: Community Rights, Conflict, Land Grab

The government has promised at least 520,000 hectares of land — close to five percent of the country — to the top four palm oil companies in Liberia. These investments will bring development to the rural regions, the government says…But the over 70 percent of Liberians who depend on agriculture for their livelihood are less convinced.

Global: Territories of Life Launch

October 3, 2015
in: Community Rights, Indigenous
Related Links: LifeMosaic

LifeMosaic, a non-profit based in Scotland, has launched the Territories of Life toolkit – videos of ten stories that were filmed in communities across Indonesia, Philippines, Guatemala, Ecuador, Colombia, Paraguay, Tanzania and Cameroon. The focus of the toolkit is on protecting indigenous lands and environments.