Youth Speaker entry #77: Christoforos Pavlakis (Greece)

There has been a number of resolutions by international donors and development agencies to forest protection with respect to the rights of indigenous people and other forest communities, and produce benefits to them in any action plans.

In Cambodia, there have been examples, where local people have opposed forest carbon projects that failed to consult them, displaced them from their lands or have not provided a fair share of revenues.

christoforos pavlakisThe Annadya project supports putting value on ecosystems and provides guidance on planning and funding approaches focusing on how protecting forests can help communities adapt to climate shifts, upholding rights, governance and the environment, and above all, the participation of forest peoples.

Regional overview

Despite huge efforts made by local authorities, poverty rate in Ratanakiri is still 37% (2010, UNDP) and 44% in Attapeu (2008, IFPRI/NCCR). This area has a very low population density and half of the 110,000 residents in Attapeu and the 150,000 in Ratanakiri are ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples. Settled in remote villages, these groups are unanimously known to be particularly vulnerable. They lack infrastructure, employment and livelihood opportunities, education and skills training; cultivate soil with low productivity and suffer from restricted access to land and face decline of natural resources.

Target group peculiarities

The target groups have been proved challenging to support due to peculiarities, among which the language barrier and illiteracy are not the least. Food consumption is for instance regulated by taboos that must be addressed in food use activities. If looked through a gender perspective, and though they account for about 80% of food production, women face intra-household discrimination to access food, even during pregnancy or lactating periods (HealthUnlimited). These groups are also known to be community-oriented, sharing communal goods (such as lands), and practicing the ‘samaakhi’ (traditional solidarity mechanisms), which is seen as a real opportunity for grass-roots institutions development. Globally, partners experience shows that without a careful assessment of cultural specificities, participation is uncertain and project success can be affected. This explains the anthropological component of the current partnership.

Production systems

A majority of farmers traditionally practice shifting cultivation. This production system is now blamed for deforestation and even banned in Lao PDR, but the lack of alternatives hampers ban efficiency. Land access is becoming a major threat and leads for instance to shortened fallow periods, when in fact these are key to slash-and-burn sustainability, together with low population density. Soil fertility is thus declining and erosion is very rapid. Farmers lack knowledge and tools to adopt new production methods and to fight pests and diseases, while climate changes are bringing further drought and flooding. Fish-farming is much underused and animal production is limited due to lack of access to veterinary care. Agricultural productivity and trade-related activities are thus low, which affects provincial food security: diet is poor, and often deficient in proteins, lipids and micro-nutrients (WFP). Commercial activities are also very low-scale, offer-driven and irregular.

On the way to COP 21 in Paris, any plan on forest protection must be able to generate significant amounts of finance to forest-rich countries, do so with environmental integrity and contribute to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions as rapidly as possible.

Text, photo and video are submitted by Christoforos Pavlakis (Greece) – pavlakisch(at)

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.

This post is published as an application by the author, to speak as a youth representative at the World Forestry Congress. Have a look at the other entries too!

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