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How laws shape forest conversion to agriculture in Congo Basin

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More and more forests are being cleared for agricultural products like palm oil, soy and cacao, and also for mining activities or development of infrastructure. If this forest conversion is not managed properly through policies and regulations, it could damage ecosystems and accelerate deforestation.

ClientEarth law and policy advisor Clotilde Henriot has contributed to a legal paper by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO) describing how laws shape forest conversion to agriculture in some countries of the Congo Basin.

The paper looks at how incoherent, incomplete or missing laws governing forest conversion can encourage harmful forest management and create risk of illegal forest conversion.

The law can play an important role in managing forests and protecting the rights of people that depend on them. We need legal reform to address the negative impacts of forest conversion, and this will increase forest protection and improve communities’ rights to forest land.

According to the FAO paper, the following actions are key to promoting sustainable agricultural expansion while protecting forests and the rights of local communities:

  1. Ensuring better land use planning,
  2. Creating stronger processes for allocating land which include more participation from local communities,
  3. Strengthening the rights of local communities to their land
  4. Improving laws which govern permits for deforestation

Read the full paper here: How existing legal frameworks shape forest conversion to agriculture. A study of the Congo Basin

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