Residents of more than 40 villages in Upper Suriname have been extensively informed about the Collective Rights of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Act. Hugo Jabini leads the mission on behalf of Tropenbos Suriname to hold the information meetings with the communities.
The Association of Saramaccan Authorities (VSG) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Tropenbos Suriname. The organization supports the VSG in implementing its policy. Central to the information meetings is that the communities can implement decisions on the management of the territory, which consists largely of forest, by establishing a body that is a good representation of the community, with men, women and young people. This body can then serve as the legal person of the village concerned. This legal person may not make decisions on its own initiative before informing the community about it and having received support for it. Also, any other entity from outside the village community would not be able to develop activities in the village without the express permission of the village community.
The organization reports that Tropenbos Suriname and VSG, together with some Saramaccan authorities and young people, participated in a knowledge exchange program in which communities in Colombia and Bolivia showed how land rights and the management of the landscape by Indigenous and Tribal Peoples work well in practice and the communities benefit from it. Through interactive sessions, working visits and role plays, the concepts of trust, financial inclusivity and benefit-sharing were discussed and the Surinamese delegation was able to broaden its horizons. Following this, the communities are also informed about the follow-up process of the exchange at the information meetings in the Upper Suriname area.
In the follow-up trajectory, in collaboration with Tropenbos Suriname and VSG, leaders from 15 villages will be given the opportunity to follow a capacity-building trajectory to improve the governance of the communities. Participation will be on a voluntary basis. To this end, knowledge exchange processes will again be carried out in which people from Colombia and Bolivia will also participate to help make Suriname’s success story as well.
The aim of the Working Landscapes Program of Tropenbos Suriname is to develop ‘climate-smart landscapes’ that can contribute to adapting to the consequences of climate change. Trees and forests, when properly managed and have the potential to make a significant contribution to adapting and developing ways to combat climate change. Supporting the livelihoods of the communities, such as sustainable agricultural cooperation, will contribute to the development of the community due to good management.