07:49 Now Playing
From Our Ancestors - Indonesia
In a rapidly dwindling community forest the people of Pandumaan & Sipituhuta have put up a strong fight to stop the growth of monoculture eucalyptus plantations. But the aggressive actions of the company & its close alignment with local politicians & the police have led this struggle down a dark path – protests, intimidation, arrests & confrontations.
08:58 Now Playing
Reunion - Peru
Indigenous Haramkbut leaders lead journey to rediscover ancient sacred site to connect with their cultural past and protect their future.
08:48 Now Playing
Guna communities have long been recognised for protecting the forests along their coastline; despite significant threats from farming and industrial logging, they are proven protectors of their ancestral forests. Today they face uncertainty over the sea that surrounds their island homes. Increasing encroachment by luxury vessels threatens the long term viability of their reefs. Without the support of the government of Panama and clear rights, they face an increasingly bitter struggle to protect the marine biodiversity in these waters.
08:16 Now Playing
Freedom - Brazil
Brazil’s African slave descendants, the Quilombola, have fought a long and hard struggle for recognition. After the abolition of the slave trade they were left abandoned and ostracised, devoid of rights and outside of Brazilian mainstream society. But things are slowly changing amongst rural communities. In the 1988 constitution Brazil’s Quilombola were granted access to land rights and since then they have been actively building a way to secure land titles on the sites where many have lived for generations. Community mapping is an important tool in this process, as is increasing awareness amongst the Brazilian population through education and ecotourism. ‘Freedom’ looks at two Quilombola communities, one with no land title and one benefitting from legal recognition, and examines the disparities between them.
06:33 Now Playing
A Sustainable Solution - Costa Rica
Imagine communities and land-owners being paid by the government to protect their forests & natural resources? Costa Rica is the only tropical country in the world that has reversed the process of deforestation through a unique fuel tax law that impresses the importance of protecting the environment & helping develop communities.
7:22 Now Playing
The indigenous people of Sungai Utik, a Dayak Iban community in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, have maintained a strong traditional connection to their forests despite continuous pressure from logging and palm oil companies intent on taking their land. Their forests remain intact and their traditional values are keeping their community together. If we want to keep forests we need to trust and support communities like the indigenous Dayak Iban. As they tackle the impacts of climate change, through the sustainable forestry traditional both to their culture and to their understanding of nature, they can offer us climate solutions and hope for the future.
7:28 Now Playing
Oil Palm Free Islands
From outsiders to political representatives, the indigenous struggle in the Mentawai islands is a 20 year struggle to be heard. We learn through the eyes of Gugen, a future Indigenous leader, as he meets the villagers, shamens, newspaper & radio stations that unify these threatened islands.
6:58 Now Playing
Dayaks and Drones
Even a well-managed, recognised forest faces constant challenges but innovative drone GPS technology, cooperative campaigning, local government support and eco-tourism are helping the Setulang people thrive. They have shown that community rights, the environment and development go hand in hand.
Setulang boasts clean water, sustainable fishing and hunting, building materials, fruit and traditional medicine, a ‘life bank’ for future generations. But by being in a heavily forested area they still face the growing threat of timber, oil palm and mining companies. The head of the village is looking to find new and innovative solutions to protect his land and a team of experts from West Kalimantan may have the answer. GPS based drones are being used for the first time to map community land and the results have been impressive.
6:04 Now Playing
Mapping Riverine Communities
The community of Lago do Mainá have lived with the forest and the river, nature for them is the most fundamental thing they have. However a military training base and increasing incursions by soldiers created tension between the community and the army. Through the use of social mapping the people of Lago do Mainá have been able to secure rights to a concession where they can continue to live as they have done centuries.
5:33 Now Playing
Across the Democratic Republic of Congo foreign owned logging companies are causing widespread destruction of one of the most valuable remaining tropical forests in the world. Often local communities are ignored as their forests are cut around them. In a country largely lawless the use of violence is endemic. By using the military and the police to crush opposition and resistance among the local populace the state is seen as openly supporting the companies over their own citizens. Acting with impunity people are being arrested, tortured and raped in remote regions.
The small forest dwelling community of Bayeria, in the Mai-Ndombe region, protested when their social improvement plans, an agreement made between the logging company and the village to help develop infrastructure, had failed to materialise. They tell their harrowing story in a region set to be the DRCs flagship forest protection area for new carbon investment projects.
6:02 Now Playing
On the 12th September 2013 the Honduran government granted almost 7% of its territory to the indigenous Miskito people who have lived traditionally on this land for centuries. We follow the leadership of the indigenous organisation, MASTA, as they speak to their elders and explore solutions to better govern their land.
6:48 Now Playing
Ramón López and other locals from Cruz de Ocote ejido, in the Sierra Norte de Puebla, Mexico, take care, cultivate and manage its forests under the scheme known as Community Forestry Management. It ensures economic benefits for local families as well as biodiversity conservation. However, they struggle daily against illegal logging and require the support of a law that protects them.
In Mexico, many forests are managed under this social enterprise approach in which the heirs of the ancestral knowledge of the environment, generate profits from this activity. Community Forest Management is emerging as a promising model for the development of the Mexican countryside, and as an example to the world.
In 2017, a new forest law disadvantageous for the communities is in process to be approved in the Mexican congress without being consulted. Follow the story using #ConsultaLeyForestal
6:35 Now Playing
Amazon Alive for Humanity
Having lived for millennia in the forests of the ‘Amazonian Trapezoid’, today the Amacayacu National Park, indigenous communities there are now treated as an obstacle to conservation. Their rights have been systematically violated since the National Park was created in 1975.
In April 2015 the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism signed an agreement to carry out the construction of a tourist trail, but without previous consultation of local communities. This infrastructure project would include the construction of extensive walking routes and amenities along an 8km route through pristine forest, communities and rivers.
The Tikuna, Yaguas and Cocamas who live in San Martín de Amacayacu have denounced the violation of their right to free, prior and informed consent. As such they have urged the Colombian government to stop the construction activities and carry out the consultation process.
7:31 Now Playing
On 1st September 2014 Edwin Chota and three indigenous Asháninka leaders were murdered while defending their forests. They had been denouncing the increasingly violent illegal loggers operating on their ancestral lands for over a decade with little recognition from the government. Through their widows, family and friends we learn about their ongoing fight for land titles. This story is one of many examples of Indigenous Peoples defending their forests and paying the ultimate sacrifice.
6:06 Now Playing
Reclaiming and strengthening indigenous culture is vital to maintaining ancestral connections to nature. This must be passed onto future generations by celebrating indigenous traditions. Embera youth are spearheading a cultural revival, after decades of assimilation, through traditional body painting and storytelling. Meanwhile sustainable community forestry initiatives are creating low impact income for communities that rely on healthy forests for their survival.
7:24 Now Playing
After a seven year battle, the Mayangna community of Awas Tingni won a landmark ruling at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and demonstrated that international human rights law could protect indigenous peoples, their land and their natural resources. As a result a Demarcation Law was passed in 2003 in Nicaragua to recognise and respect indigenous people’s land rights. However a change in law does not always lead to a change in behaviour.
Indigenous communities continue to have to fight to protect their territory from unscrupulous businessmen selling off this land to poor families, some who may have invested all they own into a small plot. This has caused incredible friction between the settlers and the indigenous communities.
Patrols to protect disputed land often turn violent. In 2013 Charlie Taylor was murdered trying to keep colonists from his communities’ land, a Mayangna community situated in the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve. This is a crucial moment, the indigenous peoples are mobilising groups to defend their land against settlers who often cut down large areas of forest and are increasingly violent. Despite laws and promises being made, indigenous communities are facing an intensifying daily battle to protect their ancestral lands and their forests.
10:20 Now Playing
Jail is the reward for Momonus and Jamaludin to defend their ancestral lands. For 12 years already these Semunying indigenous territories have been controlled by P.T. In Ledo Lestari. Their dense forest had been turned into a palm oil plantation landscape. Although they have been persecuted and abused in their ancestral land, their fight is not extinguished.
8:08 Now Playing
Tacloban: After Super Typhoon Haiyan
To examine the real significant impacts of climate change the Handcrafted team travelled to the Philippines to cover the story of super typhoon Haiyan which devastated parts of the country in November 2013. It was recorded as the most powerful storm to make landfall in human history. One particular town, Tacloban City, situated on the island of Visayas was completely destroyed and an estimated 15,000 of its inhabitants were lost. This is the true impact of climate change.
5:54 Now Playing
Pygmy Peoples of the DRC: A Rising Movement
Marginalised for decades, Pygmy peoples are fighting for recognition and land rights. Even the term ‘pygmy’ is laced with historical racism and prejudice, they are not treated as equal citizens in their home country. At the heart of pygmy culture is their forest, central to their spiritual beliefs, and ancestral heritage it is also their source of food and livelihood. Large swathes of their land is being exploited by international companies without the consent of the Pygmy peoples.
But the Pygmy movement is growing and organising fuelled by the younger generation, their momentum sustained by solidarity.
8:32 Now Playing
Beyond the Pipeline
UN Special Rapporteur of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples meets the Standing Rock Sioux leadership and community in March 2017 after months of protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
On the 10th anniversary of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the campaign has come to represent the struggle of indigenous peoples the world over as they fight for their land and the world’s biodiversity.
7:33 Now Playing
Brazil's Warrior Women
The humble babassu palm provides a livelihood for communities of women across North Eastern Brazil. Bread, charcoal, oil and soap are produced from the nut and husk; the surplus is sold on. But production has not always been so peaceful. Babassu: Brazil’s Warrior Women tells the story of the hard battle to maintain these communities’ way of life. In the face of intimidation and threats from farmers for years, Babassu women have negotiated their own terms; creating a grassroots movement and establishing the ‘Free Babassu Law’ in seven states. The law gives landless coconut gatherers rights to collect from palm groves. These inspiring women are now able to plan for the long-term, diversifying their business and securing their future. They fight for their families, their forests and the Amazon as a whole.
12:47 Now Playing
Despite their customary land being recognised by the Indonesian Government in 2012, the Seko community have been defending their land against large-scale energy development for the last 3 years. In 2016, 14 community leaders were criminalized, including 1 woman. They were sentenced for at least 7 months.
They oppose a large scale hydro-electric power plant, Seko Power Prima, that will divert their river and would cut through their fertile hills, groves, cropland and hamlets. The communities organised, staged rallies and defended their land.
On August 1st 2017, Amisandi was released from jail but the resistance continues.
7:42 Now Playing
Communities Combat Coca Growers
Roberto, Teofilo and the Shipibo Conibo communities of Patria Nueva and Nueva Saposoa have been managing their forest for decades. They use an innovative forest monitoring system that incorporates traditional foot patrols and the latest technology-including GPS, smart phone applications, satellite-generated deforestation alerts and drones. These tools have have allowed the community monitors, alongside government officials, to locate and identify land invaders, illegal loggers, and increasingly, the illicit cultivation of coca and drug trafficking activities in their ancestral territory. They face threats from invading colonialists and in 2012 community member Eliseo Picón was killed; Roberto and Teofilo continue to receive death threats.
After the making of this film, on 21st September 2017, for the first time in the history of Peru, these two indigenous communities, the Shipibo Conibo Native Communities of Nueva Saposoa and Patria Nueva, have been officially accredited as Forest Monitors by the State.
It bestows these communities with the historic legal recognition to enforce the Peruvian forest law within their land titles, including the authority to decommission the extraction and transport of natural resources and a direct link to forest authorities.
6:58 Now Playing
Owners of the Forest
A new model of conservation is emerging. It is one that values the role of local communities and reconciles protecting biodiversity with the use and management of resources. In the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Michoacán, communities play a vital role in conservation efforts and several have been recognised with awards for their work. However, these communities need to be better supported to manage conservation efforts and receive direct access to funding in order to protect their forests most effectively.
6:42 Now Playing
A growing number of Indigenous communities in Central and South America are harnessing the power of high-resolution satellite imagery, sophisticated drone equipment, and the latest smart-phone technology to precisely document and act on threats to their lands such as fires, gold-mining, logging, and deforestation for agriculture.
But it’s not without its risks: community forest monitors have had their lives threatened.
Rainforest Alert explores the groundbreaking research linking community-based monitoring and forest protection from the Eden de la Frontera community in the Peruvian Amazon.
Early results show a “measurable reduction of deforestation”, reinforcing the growing body of evidence that indigenous peoples and local communities are the best guardians of the forest. Download the study here.
Project run by Rainforest Foundation US, The Indigenous Organization of the Eastern Peruvian Amazon (ORPIO-AIDESEP) and World Resources Institute.
Photos by Laurence Ellis.
08:47 Now Playing
Guna communities have long been recognised for protecting the #forests along their coastline; despite significant threats from farming and industrial logging, they are proven protectors of their ancestral forests.
Today they face uncertainty over the sea that surrounds their island homes. Increasing encroachment by luxury vessels threatens the long term viability of their reefs. Without the support of the government of Panama and clear rights, they face an increasingly bitter struggle to protect the marine biodiversity in these waters.
8:47 Now Playing
Wildfires may grab headlines but indigenous peoples and local communities who depend the Amazon face many different threats. Not only are their territories targeted for illegal extractive activities such as gold mining and deforestation but without clear land titles their situation remains legally precarious.
But more than this – indigenous peoples and local communities offer a scalable, climate solution, as recently recognised in the UN IPCC Land Use report.
Protecting their rights will benefit communities, the Amazon itself and all of humanity.
In the Peruvian Amazon the community of Boca Parimanu, the Amahuaca peoples tread this difficult balance.
Madre de Dios, the most biodiverse region in the Peruvian Amazon, is home to 37 native communities. This southern region is also the most affected by illegal mining, more than 60 000 hectares of forest have been deforested by this activity.
Due to its high biodiversity and extension of Amazon forest, Madre de Dios is a key region for climate commitments and the fight against the climate crisis.
8:57 Now Playing
Burning the Bananal
Wildfires are increasing in their frequency and ferocity worldwide – they consume forests and destroy lives. Is there a more effective way to fight them?
Fighting fire with fire
Traditional fire management practices hold many answers. Controlled fires, which were widely banned by colonialist authorities, had long been used by indigenous peoples to maintain their land and forests and to protect their peoples from large-scale wildfires.
In recent years, the Brazilian Environment Ministry has been working in partnership with indigenous communities. They have been learning from elders about fire management, employing indigenous firefighters and investing in the application of these practices on a vast scale. This approach has evolved into the Integrated Fire Management strategy, using prescribed burns at particular times of year so as to prevent large-scale destruction when the hot and dry wildfire season arrives. Traditional knowledge is the basis for all the work of prescribed burns in indigenous territories and is already being carried out in 7 Brazilian states (Mato Grosso, Roraima, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goias, Maranhao, Tocantins, Amazonas) throughout roughly 11 million hectares of indigenous territories.
See it in practice in this short film Burning the Bananal.
Societies across the world will struggle to deal with the increasing impacts of climate change – at this crucial juncture in our humanity we need to listen, learn, respect and support indigenous traditional knowledge.
Playlist - Films by If Not Us Then Who?
Complete library documentaries made by the If Not Us Then Who? team.