Recognizing the true guardians of the forest: Q&A with David Kaimowitz
By Rhett A. Butler
April 14, 2021
David Kaimowitz describes his career as a “a 30-year quest to understand what causes deforestation,” one that has brought him full circle to where he started: at the issue of land rights.
Kaimowitz, who heads the Forest and Farm Facility, based at FAO, says the evidence shows that secure communal tenure rights is one of the most cost-effective ways to curb deforestation.
In that time, he’s also seen the discourse around the drivers of deforestation change from blaming smallholders, to realizing that a handful of large commodities companies are responsible for the majority of tropical forest loss.
In an interview with Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler, Kaimowitz talks about why it took so long for Indigenous people to be recognized as guardians of the forest, the need for conservation NGOs to address social justice, and society’s capacity to effect meaningful change.