Some environmentalists discover the power of property rights (NewScientist):
The best way to protect rainforests is to keep people out, right? Absolutely not. The best way to keep the trees, and prevent the carbon in them from entering the atmosphere, is by letting people into the forests: local people with the legal right to control what happens there.
Given the chance, most communities protect rather than plunder their forests, says a new study by the World Resources Institute and Rights and Resources Initiative, both in Washington DC. The forests provide food, water, shelter, medicines and much else.
The report, Securing Rights, Combating Climate Change collates many existing studies. It concludes that forest communities only have legal control over one-eighth of the world's forests. The rest is mostly controlled by governments or leased for logging or mining, often in defiance of community claims.
But community-owned forests are often the best-protected. In the Amazon rainforest, deforestation rates in community-owned areas are far lower than outside.