Tag Archives: Indigenous peoples

Amazon land rights face greatest threat

land rights amazon

Failure to protect indigenous land rights in the Amazon region is undermining the safeguarding of forests and the reduction of emissions. 

SÃO PAULO, 19 October, 2016 – Ensuring forest people’s land rights in the Amazon region is a cheap and effective way of cutting both carbon emissions and deforestation, researchers say – but the obstacles are formidable.

A report from the World Resources Institute (WRI) offers new evidence that the modest investments needed to secure these rights will generate billions of dollars in returns – economically, socially and environmentally – for governments, investors and communities.

The report, Climate Benefits, Tenure Costs, quantifies the economic value of securing land rights for the indigenous communities who live in and protect forests, with a focus on Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia in South America, and implications for the rest of the world.

Previous WRI research has found that when indigenous peoples and communities have secure rights to land, deforestation rates and carbon emissions are often significantly reduced.

In the new report, matching analysis data shows that the average annual deforestation rates in Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia were significantly lower in tenure-secure indigenous forests than in similar areas without secure tenure: 35% lower in Bolivia, 40% lower in Brazil, and 50% lower in Colombia. All three countries have large portions of the Amazon forest within their borders.

Yet although protecting indigenous land rights can help meet national emissions reduction commitments to the Paris Agreement on climate change, only 21 of 197 intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) mention community-based land tenure, and only one sets a measurable target for the expansion of secure tenure rights.

Land grabbers

In Brazil itself, there is mounting pressure from ranchers, loggers and land grabbers who are invading indigenous areas, whether they are officially recognised or not.

Based on satellite images from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), which monitors the Amazon region, the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) has just issued a warning on the website of the Socio-Environmental Institute (ISA) that, as a result of that pressure, deforestation inside indigenous reserves is rising.

The images show that between January and September this year, an area of 188,000 sq km was cleared – the equivalent of around 25,000 football fields. This is almost three times the 67,000 sq km deforested in the whole of 2015.

Together, the 419 indigenous areas located within the Brazilian Amazon region cover more than 1 million sq km. So far, what has been cleared amounts to only 2% of the total, but non-governmental organisations fear that the barrier to the advance of agriculture, logging and land grabbers, which is formed by the existence of this mosaic of indigenous areas and conservation areas, is beginning to collapse.

“Not only is securing land tenure the right thing to do, it’s one of the world’s most cost-effective climate mitigation strategies”

Large-scale government dam building projects have also contributed to higher rates of deforestation. Cachoeira Seca, the most deforested of all the indigenous areas, is near the recently built Belo Monte hydro-electric dam.

Yet the WRI report shows that the modest investments needed to secure land rights for indigenous peoples in the Amazon could generate billions of dollars in economic, social and environmental returns for governments, investors and communities.

The total estimated benefits of securing indigenous lands in Brazil are US$523bn–$1,165tn, in Bolivia $54–$119bn, and in Colombia $123–$277bn over the next 20 years, after factoring in global carbon benefits and ecosystem conservation.

“We now know that there is a clear economic case to be made for ensuring that indigenous peoples have secure rights to their land,” says Andrew Steer, president and CEO of WRI. “Not only is securing land tenure the right thing to do, it’s one of the world’s most cost-effective climate mitigation strategies.

“National governments should take note – and move quickly – to secure indigenous lands and incorporate land rights into their climate change strategies and commitments to the Paris Agreement.”

Securing land rights

The WRI reckons that the cost of securing indigenous land rights in the Amazon is just a few dollars per hectare of forest per year – less than 1% of the total economic benefits. The report also finds that securing indigenous and community lands is cost-effective when compared with other climate mitigation options such as carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Analysis shows that using CCS to reduce emissions costs 5-29 times more in coal-fired power plants and 7-42 times more in natural gas-fired power plants than achieving the same emissions reductions through securing indigenous forestland tenure. And CCS technology has yet to be proved workable at scale.

“Indigenous peoples and local communities have a long history of using natural resources wisely and adapting to the changing climate in an integrated and sustainable manner,” says Naoko Ishii, CEO and chair of the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

“Protecting and enhancing the land rights of indigenous peoples is a necessary step towards greater economic prosperity and safeguarding our global commons.”

Unfortunately, policymakers in Brazil continue to ignore the benefits of preserving indigenous lands, even when they are so clearly spelled out.

Instead, FUNAI’s funding – and therefore its ability to protect indigenous areas – has been drastically cut under the recent tough austerity measures introduced by the federal government to tackle economic recession. And if the WRI report is right, this is in every sense a false economy. – Climate News Network

Failure to protect indigenous land rights in the Amazon region is undermining the safeguarding of forests and the reduction of emissions. 

SÃO PAULO, 19 October, 2016 – Ensuring forest people’s land rights in the Amazon region is a cheap and effective way of cutting both carbon emissions and deforestation, researchers say – but the obstacles are formidable.

A report from the World Resources Institute (WRI) offers new evidence that the modest investments needed to secure these rights will generate billions of dollars in returns – economically, socially and environmentally – for governments, investors and communities.

The report, Climate Benefits, Tenure Costs, quantifies the economic value of securing land rights for the indigenous communities who live in and protect forests, with a focus on Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia in South America, and implications for the rest of the world.

Previous WRI research has found that when indigenous peoples and communities have secure rights to land, deforestation rates and carbon emissions are often significantly reduced.

In the new report, matching analysis data shows that the average annual deforestation rates in Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia were significantly lower in tenure-secure indigenous forests than in similar areas without secure tenure: 35% lower in Bolivia, 40% lower in Brazil, and 50% lower in Colombia. All three countries have large portions of the Amazon forest within their borders.

Yet although protecting indigenous land rights can help meet national emissions reduction commitments to the Paris Agreement on climate change, only 21 of 197 intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) mention community-based land tenure, and only one sets a measurable target for the expansion of secure tenure rights.

Land grabbers

In Brazil itself, there is mounting pressure from ranchers, loggers and land grabbers who are invading indigenous areas, whether they are officially recognised or not.

Based on satellite images from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), which monitors the Amazon region, the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) has just issued a warning on the website of the Socio-Environmental Institute (ISA) that, as a result of that pressure, deforestation inside indigenous reserves is rising.

The images show that between January and September this year, an area of 188,000 sq km was cleared – the equivalent of around 25,000 football fields. This is almost three times the 67,000 sq km deforested in the whole of 2015.

Together, the 419 indigenous areas located within the Brazilian Amazon region cover more than 1 million sq km. So far, what has been cleared amounts to only 2% of the total, but non-governmental organisations fear that the barrier to the advance of agriculture, logging and land grabbers, which is formed by the existence of this mosaic of indigenous areas and conservation areas, is beginning to collapse.

“Not only is securing land tenure the right thing to do, it’s one of the world’s most cost-effective climate mitigation strategies”

Large-scale government dam building projects have also contributed to higher rates of deforestation. Cachoeira Seca, the most deforested of all the indigenous areas, is near the recently built Belo Monte hydro-electric dam.

Yet the WRI report shows that the modest investments needed to secure land rights for indigenous peoples in the Amazon could generate billions of dollars in economic, social and environmental returns for governments, investors and communities.

The total estimated benefits of securing indigenous lands in Brazil are US$523bn–$1,165tn, in Bolivia $54–$119bn, and in Colombia $123–$277bn over the next 20 years, after factoring in global carbon benefits and ecosystem conservation.

“We now know that there is a clear economic case to be made for ensuring that indigenous peoples have secure rights to their land,” says Andrew Steer, president and CEO of WRI. “Not only is securing land tenure the right thing to do, it’s one of the world’s most cost-effective climate mitigation strategies.

“National governments should take note – and move quickly – to secure indigenous lands and incorporate land rights into their climate change strategies and commitments to the Paris Agreement.”

Securing land rights

The WRI reckons that the cost of securing indigenous land rights in the Amazon is just a few dollars per hectare of forest per year – less than 1% of the total economic benefits. The report also finds that securing indigenous and community lands is cost-effective when compared with other climate mitigation options such as carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Analysis shows that using CCS to reduce emissions costs 5-29 times more in coal-fired power plants and 7-42 times more in natural gas-fired power plants than achieving the same emissions reductions through securing indigenous forestland tenure. And CCS technology has yet to be proved workable at scale.

“Indigenous peoples and local communities have a long history of using natural resources wisely and adapting to the changing climate in an integrated and sustainable manner,” says Naoko Ishii, CEO and chair of the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

“Protecting and enhancing the land rights of indigenous peoples is a necessary step towards greater economic prosperity and safeguarding our global commons.”

Unfortunately, policymakers in Brazil continue to ignore the benefits of preserving indigenous lands, even when they are so clearly spelled out.

Instead, FUNAI’s funding – and therefore its ability to protect indigenous areas – has been drastically cut under the recent tough austerity measures introduced by the federal government to tackle economic recession. And if the WRI report is right, this is in every sense a false economy. – Climate News Network

Forest peoples urge land rights action

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE There’s plenty of talk at the United Nations and in the corridors of international conferences on making land rights a realiy for forest people. But campaigners say there’s not much action to match. LONDON, 23 February – Forest people’s groups say many governments are failing to protect their right to their ancestral lands, and argue that this neglect is damaging efforts to slow climate change. Their argument is supported by campaigners. Research by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) says the pace of provision of new legal protection for indigenous communities has fallen, despite an increase in professions of support by industry, governments and international initiatives like REDD+ and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. RRI says fewer new laws have been passed to protect indigenous land rights since 2008 than in the six preceding years, and the legislation that has been enacted is weaker. Previous RRI research into 12 emerging market countries found that at least one out of every three hectares licensed for natural resource development overlaps with indigenous community land. When private companies acquire land and resources without first checking who lives there, it says, they expose themselves and their investors to substantial risk, as some level of conflict or business disruption often results. The ownership of almost half the developing world’s rural, forest and dryland areas is contested, according to RRI, directly affecting the lives and livelihoods of over two billion people. They often have no formal title to the lands on which they live and depend, and can seldom legally defend their rights.

Better stewards

An RRI report, Lots of Words, Little Action: Will the private sector tip the scales for community land rights?, examines how land rights and attempts to mitigate climate change through REDD are linked. One of its findings is that REDD+ initiatives are not yet translating into globally significant increases in the area under the ownership and control of indigenous peoples and local communities. Meanwhile, it says, the global forest area covered by industrial concessions is large and growing. Global climate change efforts have a key role to play in securing the land rights of indigenous people and rural communities, it says. And when they are secured, that means less deforestation and more climate change mitigation. Indigenous communities, it is argued, are unlikely to over-exploit forest resources. Their understanding of the forests as the place on which they depend encourages them to resist deforestation and the piecemeal exploitation and destruction of their fauna and flora. Indonesia is the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, chiefly because of deforestation for palm oil and other natural resource extraction. One group, the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), says those it represents claim 40 million hectares of the country’s rainforests. If they are given stronger rights over their lands, AMAN says, they will help the country to fight deforestation and reduce climate change.

Wide regional variations

The head of AMAN, Abdon Nababan, is urging President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyon to formally implement a May 2013 Constitutional Court decision which declared unconstitutional a line in the country’s 1999 Forestry Law stating that customary forests are state forest. The Indonesian Government controls 96% of the country’s forests. The RRI report also highlights a number of regional differences:

  • In Latin America, communities own or control more than 39% of forests, a direct contrast with sub-Saharan Africa where less than 6% of forests are controlled by communities.
  • Of the recorded progress seen in Africa since 2002, 89% comes from the implementation of Tanzania’s Village Land Act (1999) and Forest Act (2002).
  • Only two African countries in the study – Liberia and Mozambique – have statutory frameworks that recognize community ownership of land.
  • Governments of the countries of the Congo Basin, which contains the world’s second largest rainforest, claim legal control of more than 99% of forest land.
  • By 2013, all 12 Asian countries surveyed had implemented some form of community tenure regime, but these laws affect less than 4% of forestland in seven of the nations.

One of  RRI’s campaigns seeks to double by 2018 the amount of land recognized worldwide as owned or controlled by indigenous peoples and local communities. Another effort is focused on REDD+, which RRI describes as “the world’s leading initiative to support forest conservation”. REDD+ promises to respect the rights of indigenous people and local communities to protect forests and to sell the carbon they contain as offsets to polluters seeking to meet emissions targets. The United Nations is leading the negotiations for new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) intended to guide economic development and poverty reduction for the next 15 years. But RRI is concerned that no specific target for land rights has yet been set for the SDGs. – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE There’s plenty of talk at the United Nations and in the corridors of international conferences on making land rights a realiy for forest people. But campaigners say there’s not much action to match. LONDON, 23 February – Forest people’s groups say many governments are failing to protect their right to their ancestral lands, and argue that this neglect is damaging efforts to slow climate change. Their argument is supported by campaigners. Research by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) says the pace of provision of new legal protection for indigenous communities has fallen, despite an increase in professions of support by industry, governments and international initiatives like REDD+ and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. RRI says fewer new laws have been passed to protect indigenous land rights since 2008 than in the six preceding years, and the legislation that has been enacted is weaker. Previous RRI research into 12 emerging market countries found that at least one out of every three hectares licensed for natural resource development overlaps with indigenous community land. When private companies acquire land and resources without first checking who lives there, it says, they expose themselves and their investors to substantial risk, as some level of conflict or business disruption often results. The ownership of almost half the developing world’s rural, forest and dryland areas is contested, according to RRI, directly affecting the lives and livelihoods of over two billion people. They often have no formal title to the lands on which they live and depend, and can seldom legally defend their rights.

Better stewards

An RRI report, Lots of Words, Little Action: Will the private sector tip the scales for community land rights?, examines how land rights and attempts to mitigate climate change through REDD are linked. One of its findings is that REDD+ initiatives are not yet translating into globally significant increases in the area under the ownership and control of indigenous peoples and local communities. Meanwhile, it says, the global forest area covered by industrial concessions is large and growing. Global climate change efforts have a key role to play in securing the land rights of indigenous people and rural communities, it says. And when they are secured, that means less deforestation and more climate change mitigation. Indigenous communities, it is argued, are unlikely to over-exploit forest resources. Their understanding of the forests as the place on which they depend encourages them to resist deforestation and the piecemeal exploitation and destruction of their fauna and flora. Indonesia is the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, chiefly because of deforestation for palm oil and other natural resource extraction. One group, the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), says those it represents claim 40 million hectares of the country’s rainforests. If they are given stronger rights over their lands, AMAN says, they will help the country to fight deforestation and reduce climate change.

Wide regional variations

The head of AMAN, Abdon Nababan, is urging President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyon to formally implement a May 2013 Constitutional Court decision which declared unconstitutional a line in the country’s 1999 Forestry Law stating that customary forests are state forest. The Indonesian Government controls 96% of the country’s forests. The RRI report also highlights a number of regional differences:

  • In Latin America, communities own or control more than 39% of forests, a direct contrast with sub-Saharan Africa where less than 6% of forests are controlled by communities.
  • Of the recorded progress seen in Africa since 2002, 89% comes from the implementation of Tanzania’s Village Land Act (1999) and Forest Act (2002).
  • Only two African countries in the study – Liberia and Mozambique – have statutory frameworks that recognize community ownership of land.
  • Governments of the countries of the Congo Basin, which contains the world’s second largest rainforest, claim legal control of more than 99% of forest land.
  • By 2013, all 12 Asian countries surveyed had implemented some form of community tenure regime, but these laws affect less than 4% of forestland in seven of the nations.

One of  RRI’s campaigns seeks to double by 2018 the amount of land recognized worldwide as owned or controlled by indigenous peoples and local communities. Another effort is focused on REDD+, which RRI describes as “the world’s leading initiative to support forest conservation”. REDD+ promises to respect the rights of indigenous people and local communities to protect forests and to sell the carbon they contain as offsets to polluters seeking to meet emissions targets. The United Nations is leading the negotiations for new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) intended to guide economic development and poverty reduction for the next 15 years. But RRI is concerned that no specific target for land rights has yet been set for the SDGs. – Climate News Network