If forest peoples are to survive and flourish, then they need secure rights to the lands, territories and natural resources that they have always depended on. Under international law, governments have an obligation to respect and protect indigenous peoples’ land rights. For forest peoples themselves secure rights to their lands and territories are not just a matter of law, they are the ground of their being and the source of their identity. Long term stewardship of lands and forests requires that communities have clear rights and the authority to own, use, manage and control these areas.
Along with our partners, Forest Peoples Programme puts land security at the heart of our work. We help forest peoples clarify their land rights, map the way they own and use lands and forests, file claims for government recognition of these areas and develop long-term community plans so they can act as effective custodians of natural resources that their livelihoods depend on.
Lands and natural resources are often coveted by other interests – loggers, miners, ranchers and agribusinesses, plantations and even conservationists. Ensuring respect for forest peoples’ land rights are thus often at the core of FPP’s engagement with these other sectors. We seek to ensure that peoples’ self-determined development is grounded in strong and respected rights to land, territories and resources.