Recognition to Land, Territories and Resources
Communities need ownership over their ancestral land in order to protect forests. With no formal land title traditional communities often face serious conflict when trying to evict illegal loggers, poachers and land grabbers. Who will believe their claims without precise maps and legal title deeds?
There is now clear and undeniable evidence that where indigenous people have strong rights, there are standing forests.
Only 0.6% of forest was lost inside Indigenous lands in the Brazilian Amazon between 2000 and 2012, compared with 7.0% of forest outside such lands.
When decisions are made about their forests and ancestral lands communities have the right to free, prior, and informed consent. They should also be allowed to say no when governments and corporations threaten their livelihoods.
Indigenous peoples are the best guardians of the forest, but they are under siege from a great and growing hunger for new sources of food, fuel, mineral wealth and water.
The battle to keep forests often leads to serious and sometimes fatal conflicts. Communities should be supported in their work and community leaders should not be criminalized for defending their land and our forests.
There were 46 indigenous people known to be killed in 2014 for taking a stand against environmental destruction. It is likely that the death toll is higher as murders often occur in remote villages or deep in jungles, where they are unreported.
Investment and direct access to finance for communities is vital to ensure good education, healthcare and rural development. If communities are to look after our forests then we should compensate them.
Investing in indigenous peoples not only conserves forests, it encourages sustainable development.