Lands, Forests & Territories

“Every member of our community depends and continues to depend on the forest. It is she who makes our identity. She is our soul, without it we have no life, we disappear.”

Baka Community Member, Cameroon.

 

There are approximately 1.5 billion indigenous peoples and local communities in the world, and their customary lands encompass 65% of the world’s land area.

Yet in many countries forest peoples do not have secure tenure over these areas and are denied access and use of their territories because of inadequate government policies, extractive industries’ activities, or conservation initiatives, such as protected areas. Evidence is mounting that where they have secure tenure, communities and indigenous peoples are often the most capable custodians of the planet’s natural capital, yet communities are not, or are only minimally, involved in official decision-making and management of these areas.

We support forest peoples who are facing such challenges to protect their rights and negotiate better access, and greater involvement in the management of natural resources of their territories through:

  • developing monitoring and mapping tools to document sustainable resource use and evidence community contributions to environmental governance;
  • facilitating inter- and intra-community strategic planning for conservation, sustainable management and development;
  • promoting the application of a rights-based approach to conservation, and challenging top-down models which restrict access and livelihoods;
  • advocating for recognition of land and resource rights at multiple levels, so communities can raise their concerns and propose alternatives in national and international standard-setting processes.

 

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