Customary sustainable use

FPP supports indigenous and local communities to set up and carry out community-based research studies to document information related to traditional knowledge, customary practices and use of natural resources within their territories. Community researchers collect information from knowledgeable resource-users such as hunters, fishers, healers, people who are involved in agriculture, gathering, etc. In particular, the sustainable element is highlighted: the ways in which the community makes sure that resources are not over-used and that enough is left for future generations. This can be related to specific types of knowledge, rituals or spiritual beliefs, and/or traditional community rules and regulations which are usually unwritten (customary law). These studies provide insight in the sophistication and complexity of indigenous management systems and of customary law.

Documenting customary sustainable use can be important for various reasons; the studies are a strong evidence of communities’ traditional occupation and use of traditional territories and can help communities to assert their rights to access, control and use these areas and resources. They are also a strong basis for community land and resource management plans. The research also contributes to the maintenance and revitalisation of traditional knowledge, practices and skills and to the understanding of forest peoples’ role in biodiversity management. Often communities use the information for educational purposes to transmit traditional knowledge and skills to the youth. In addition, these studies feed into international-level debates and policy-making about conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and customary practices of indigenous peoples, in particular through article 10(c) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).