A little known fact for those outside the conservation fields is that Norway is committed to saving the world's rainforests. Yes, that's right. Home of Munch, Ibsen, reindeer and fjords.
This is the 25th anniversay, in fact, of the Rainforest Foundation Norway, and they've produced a document that tells us where we stand. It's worth downloading to see what's driving deforestation, how we can check it, and why the rainforests remain important for all of us.
Amongst other things, it remind us that:
Reducing the destruction of the world’s rainforests is crucial if we are to limit global warming. About 11% of global emissions of greenhouse gases stem from deforestation. At the same time, rainforests can be severely affected by climate change. Habitat fragmentation and degradation increase the forests’ vulnerability. It is uncertain exactly how rainforests will be affected by climate change, but we know that deforestation must be reduced in order to cut emissions and reinforce the resilience of the remaining forests.
The people who live in and depend upon the rainforest are crucial to it's continued viability. Their cultural diversity is key to the biodiversity we seek to conserve.
We are told:
Indigenous peoples are relatively few in number, approximately 370 million people and constitute about 5% of the world population. Still, their numerous ethnic groups represent the main cultural diversity of the world. The greatest number of indigenous peoples is found in the tropical forest regions.
A recent study on the correlation between areas with high biological diversity and high linguistic diversity further underscores the link between indigenous peoples and tropical rainforest. Some 70 per cent of the world’s languages are spoken in the biodiversity hotspots, mainly tropical rainforests.
Land is where collective culture is being lived and shared, and where the transfer of skills from one generation to the next takes place. Land is linked to worldview and historic references, and certain places have spiritual and religious importance. Land is intrinsically linked to worship, collective knowledge, to male/female activities, to skills linked to food harvesting and medicine collection, house building, income generation, etc.
The Karawari Cave Arts Project is indebted to the Nordic home of salmon and reindeer. As the PNG government drags its heels in cancelling the illegal SABLs they once permitted, and it reconsiders the country's financial dependence upon Rimbunan Hijau against the risk of unchecked illegal mining, we are reminded of the difference between good governance and corruption born of a Resource Curse.
Somehow the country of reindeer and pickled herring has kept its head above water in the recent global financial collapse, and been able to endow most of the work being done by NGOs around the world---in South America, Africa, Southeast Asia and Oceania---to conserve the rainforest.
Because saving the rainforest means savng the guardians of the rainforest. It's really very simple. Even the Norwegians in their snowy beautiful fjords can understand that. Investing in the global future, rather than in arms, fats cars, industrial zones, zoos or theme parks.
Rather than exploiting those rainforest people for the sake of a music career, an ambitious anthropological theory about human savagery, an expensive photo exhibition, book, or filmic 'homage' to these noble savages, Norway is looking for ways to support them, on their own terms. Sponsoring indigenous research, skills transference, activism, awareness, sustainable small scale development, and in the Karawari Cave Arts case, the rock art that represents their deep heritage.
Norway is not the only country concerned about biodiversity. But they may be the only one that really does something about it.
Our project has had the support of many generous organizations. But there is a difference between sponsoring indigenous scientists as they research the biodiversity of their forest, and record the beauty of their caves, and selling a magazine with romantic images and fictional stories. Or selling something we've just found at Amazon.com, a pamphlet about these people that has absolutely no contribution from or benefit to the people themselves. It's shocking.