Forest Peoples Programme Supporting forest peoples’ rights

Environmental governance

Most of the planet's areas of high biological diversity are located within the territories of indigenous and tribal forest peoples, who have been managing the environment through their own systems based on traditional knowledge, practices, rules and beliefs for generations ('customary use'). 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. At the same time, many indigenous territories are increasingly threatened by unsustainable activities such as logging, mining, and plantations while the communities are not, or are only minimally, involved in official decision-making and management of these areas.

Forest peoples who are facing such challenges are taking action to protect their rights and negotiate better access and greater involvement in the management of natural resources in their territories. Their initiatives include community resource mapping, documentation of customary sustainable resource use, development of community-based territorial management plans, and strengthening of community institutions and decision-making mechanisms. They advocate for recognition of land and resource rights with local and national authorities and work to achieve enhanced understanding and application of FPIC in conservation and/or development initiatives related to resources on their lands. These initiatives are supported by FPP.

A particular focus of many forest communities is to challenge top-down models of conservation that restrict their access and livelihoods, and violate their rights. They work to promote the application of a rights-based approach to conservation, which respects their rights in conservation initiatives. With support of FPP, they research to what extent international guidelines and agreements on protected areas related to indigenous peoples’ rights are being put into practice at international, national and local levels, and advocate for national reforms in protected area policies. They also raise their concerns and propose alternatives in international standard-setting processes, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Relevant resources

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Sungai Utik Declaration - on the roles of young men and women as next generation indigenous leaders

Sungai Utik

14 April, 2014

Sungai Utik Declaration

The Sungai Utik Declaration was the outcome of young indigenous leaders training. The declaration was formed in a highly collaborative drafting process, which followed five days of deep reflection by over twenty young indigenous leaders from Indonesia and the Phillippines.

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FPP E-Newsletter February 2014 (PDF Version)


18 February, 2014

FPP E-Newsletter February 2014

Dear friends,

The UN General Assembly during its 69th session, on 22-23 September  this year, will convene a high-level plenary meeting - the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples  – to review the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) since its adoption in 2007, and to identify outstanding issues and actions pertaining to indigenous peoples and development.

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Looking Ahead: International workshop on Deforestation Drivers and the Rights of Forest Peoples, Indonesia

14 February, 2014

An international workshop organised by Forest Peoples Programme and Pusaka will bring together forest peoples, governments, NGOs, international agencies and forest scientists from Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America on 9 -14 March 2014 in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.

The aim of the workshop is to share lessons and generate recommendations on effective measures to stem deforestation, promote human rights and secure local livelihoods. 

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Pre Congreso Mesoamericano de Áreas Protegidas por Pueblos Indígenas, “Bosques para Siempre”, 17 y 18 de marzo 2014, San José, Costa Rica

7 February, 2014

El Pre Congreso Mesoamericano de Áreas Protegidas por Pueblos Indígenas: “Bosques para Siempre”, organizado por la Alianza Mesoamericana de Pueblos y Bosques, tiene como objetivo entablar un diálogo entorno a la Agenda de Derechos Territoriales de los pueblos indígenas y comunidades forestales de la región. 

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Monitoring of illegal logging by the Baka in their ancestral forests


5 December, 2013

The Baka indigenous people in the forests of the Congo Basin have been using PDAs (personal digital assistants) with built-in global positioning systems (GPS) to collect data (such as sites of illegal logging and felled trees and forest sites of livelihood and cultural importance) in their ancestral forests. They then use this information to make interactive maps of their ancestral forests, to help lobby against illegal logging of the forest.

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Video: The Customary Bylaws of the Chepkitale Ogiek of Mount Elgon


3 December, 2013

As a result of an intense community process of mapping and dialogue, the Ogiek of Mount Elgon, Kenya, have written down their customary bylaws for the first time, in order to ensure the continued conservation of their ancestral lands and natural resources.

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FPP E-Newsletter December 2013 (PDF Version)

Forest Peoples Programme

3 December, 2013

FPP E-Newsletter December 2013

Dear Friends,

What are the prospects for securing the land rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, and women in the foreseeable future?

Significantly, the report of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, under Goal 1 to “End Poverty”, sets a target to “Increase by x% the share of women and men, communities, and businesses with secure rights to land, property, and other assets”.

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The “Forests COP”? - Highlights on forests and indigenous peoples from the UNFCCC 19th Conference of the Parties

27 November, 2013

The International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) in Warsaw

Key decisions on REDD+ adopted at the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Warsaw, and future UNFCCC climate negotiations and financing commitments by donors, such as the United Kingdom, will pose further significant challenges for indigenous peoples' rights and its advocates.

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Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Update: Outcomes of recent meetings

27 November, 2013

Following up on our previous E-news article that looked ahead to the 8th meeting of the CBD Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions (WG8(j)-8) and the 17th meeting of the CBD’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-17) held in October 2013 in Montreal, Canada, we now provide a brief update on some main outcomes of relevance and importance to indigenous peoples.

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Chepkitale Ogiek community document their customary bylaws for the first time in order to ensure the continued conservation of their ancestral lands and natural resources

26 November, 2013

Mount Elgon Chepkitale

VIDEO: The Customary Bylaws of the Ogiek of Mount Elgon

“We have never conserved. It is the way we live that conserves. These customary bylaws we have had forever, but we have not written them down until now."

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