The indigenous tribes of tropical rainforests and other protected areas from across the world can help conserve forests when they have right to use the forests and are not forced out, according to new World Bank study.
Funded by the World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group, the study suggests that deforestation and forest fires are reduced when local inhabitants continue living in protected areas.
The reduction of rates of deforestation contributes to mitigation of levels of climate change and may also provide development benefits, according to the authors of the study, published online in PLoS ONE journal.
These results suggest that forest protection can contribute both to biodiversity conservation and CO2 mitigation goals, wrote the authors.
The World Bank study reiterates that biodiversity need not be protected at the expense of excluding local inhabitants from access to forest resources.
In fact, according to satellite data shown in the study, the rate of deforestation was lowered by about 16 percent, between 2000 and 2008, in protected areas inhabited by tribals not assimilated into mainstream civilizations.
Experts are finally waking up to the fact that upholding indigenous peoples' right to remain on their land is the best way to guarantee forest conservation, commented Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International, an organization working for tribal people's rights worldwide.