About Forest Peoples Programme

Our Human Rights Work

Forest Peoples Programme is a human rights organisation working with forest peoples across the globe to secure their rights to their lands and their livelihoods. We work alongside more than 60 partner organisations representing indigenous peoples and forest communities from across the globe.

Our Vision

We support forest peoples and indigenous organisations to promote an alternative vision of how forests should be managed, based on respect for the rights, knowledge, cultures and identities of the peoples who know them best.

Through advocacy, practical projects and capacity building, we support forest peoples to deal directly with the outside powers that shape their lands, lives and futures, envisioning a day when forests are owned and controlled by the people within them, ensuring sustainable livelihoods, equity and well-being for future generations.

Did you know... nearly all forests across the globe are inhabited?

The peoples who live in these forests have customary rights and have developed ways of life and traditional knowledge that are attuned to their forest environments. Yet forests are commonly treated as empty lands controlled by the state and available for development, colonisation, logging, plantations, dams, mines, oil wells, gas pipelines and agribusinesses. These encroachments often force peoples out of their forest homes, and even many conservation schemes such as wilderness reserves and protected areas also deny forest peoples' rights. 

Around 300 million people, made up of local communities and indigenous peoples, traditionally live in forests and primarily depend on them for their livelihoods

Customary lands of indigenous peoples and local communities encompass 65% of the world's land area, and 80% of the global biodiversity

Protecting forests is often a deadly risk for indigenous peoples and local communities

In 2017,  there were 207 documented murders of environmental defenders


Strategic Approaches

» Self-determination

Supporting and advancing the exercise of self-determination by indigenous and forest peoples by strengthening community governance, mobilisation and representation, and the creation and use of political spaces where indigenous and forest peoples' voices can be heard. 

» Access to Justice

Ensuring access to justice by developing and using accountability and redress mechanisms in both public and private institutions that are directly accessible to indigenous and forest peoples and their communities.

» Legal and Policy Reform

Partnered advocacy towards legal and policy reform and the development of best practice and standards consistent with indigenous and forest peoples' rights in international law.

» Building Solidarity

Networking, sharing information and building solidarity for coordinated action among a wide range of actors.


We were founded in 1990 in response to the forest crisis, specifically to support indigenous forest peoples’ struggles to defend their lands and livelihoods. In the beginning, our focus came from the expertise and direct relationships that the small founding team of anthropologists and lawyers had with specific indigenous communities, primarily in South America and Asia. We registered as a non-governmental human rights Dutch Stichting in 1997, and then later in 2000 as a UK charity. Since then, Forest Peoples Programme has grown into a respected and successful organisation. We have consultative status with the UN (ECOSOC) and operate around the tropical forest belt, where we serve to bridge the gap so that forest peoples can influence the outside powers that shape their lives and futures.