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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Where They Stand

Fred Pearce
Forest Peoples Programme

26 October, 2015

Where They Stand details how Wapichan people in South America use modern technologies in struggle to secure land rights

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Community-based monitoring and information systems (CBMIS) in the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Maurizio Farhan Ferrari
Caroline de Jong
Viola Stella Belohrad

23 November, 2015


M. F. Ferrari et al., 'Community-based monitoring and information systems (CBMIS) in the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)', Biodiversity, 16:2-3, pp. 57-67, 2015


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SDG Indicators Position Paper from the Indigenous Peoples Major Group

26 October, 2015

The position paper of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group and their recommendation on indicators to monitor the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. This document will be submitted to the meetings of the UN Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Issues (October 22-23) and the UN Inter-agency Expert Group on SDG Indicators (October 27-28) leading towards the adoption of SDG indicators in March 2016.

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How are Indigenous Communities Benefiting from GPS Data Loggers?

1 June, 2015

What are GPS data loggers and how do they work?

A GPS data logger is an electronic device that records data over time or in relation to location. Generally they are small, battery powered, portable, and equipped with a microprocessor, internal memory for data storage and sensors.

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Indigenous Experts Share Experiences and Recommendations on Traditional Occupations

1 June, 2015

FPP recently developed a new publication that examines traditional occupations in indigenous peoples’ communities. The publication is based on a survey that was filled in by 17 indigenous experts, providing information from 13 countries.

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An International Festival to Promote Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

1 June, 2015

The indigenous Pygmy peoples in DRC are custodians of a rich culture. Their indigenous knowledge and traditional practices have contributed enormously to the preservation and sustainable management of the country’s forest ecosystems. They play a central role in improving forest governance.

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Forthcoming Publication: Where They Stand

1 June, 2015

They are bound to that land, and they are its true custodians.”

Written by author and journalist Fred Pearce, Where They Stand reveals the reality of life for the Wapichan people. With detailed observations, Pearce documents their determined efforts to secure effective recognition of their customary land rights covering extensive rainforests in the Upper Essequibo basin and savannah grasslands, dry tropical forests and montane forest in the South Rupununi District of Guyana.

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Palawan: Stop Blaming Indigenous Peoples’ Farming Practices (Kaingin) for Deforestation

5 May, 2015

By Coalition against Land Grabbing and United Tribes of Palawan

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Event Report: "The Global Indigenous Movement: Past Achievements, Future Challenges"

30 April, 2015

Joji Activism 1990s

On 26th March 2015, The Social Movements and Civil Society Research Group at City University London (SMCSRG) held its third evening event, a talk on The Global Indigenous Movement: Past Achievements Future Challenges. SMCSRG was delighted to host long-time indigenous peoples’ rights activist and current Director of the Forest Peoples Programme, Joji Cariño, to speak on these themes. The event was Chaired by Dr Mauro Barelli, a Senior Lecturer specialising in minority and indigenous peoples’ rights at The City Law School.

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Whakatane Mechanism launched at the WPC in Sydney, November 2014

24 February, 2015

World Parks Congress Launch of the Whakatane Mechanism

The previous IUCN World Parks Congress (WPC) was held in Durban, South Africa in 2003. The historic marginalisation of indigenous peoples and local communities from conservation movements and policies resulted in a difficult push for the recognition of local communities’ rights, indigenous peoples’ contribution to conservation and the need for rights-based conservation approaches. Indigenous peoples and local communities were outside the system pushing to get in. However their efforts were successful and helped lead to the recognition of the “new conservation paradigm”.

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