The Chao Lay, or people of the sea, have lived on the shores of Thailand and Myanmar for generations, fishing and foraging. But the community may be facing its greatest threat yet as marine conservation efforts limit their traditional fishing grounds, and a tourism boom pits them against developers keen on the patch of land that their boats, homes and shrines sit on.

A recent Rights and Resources report provides strong evidence on the importance of recognizing and protecting indigenous rights towards mitigating forest-based emissions and curbing global warming. As a Ph.D. student coordinating the third round of data collection of CIFOR’s Global Comparative Study on REDD+ in Ucayali, Peru, I was pleased to find an on the ground example of why this is important and how tenure security can help achieve the objective of REDD+.

Forests and Biodiversity Need Indigenous Stewardship

Around 2011 or 2012, indigenous villagers outside Manu National Park, an internationally renowned biodiversity hotspot in southwestern Peru, noticed that bananas were mysteriously disappearing from the trees that ringed their huts. At the same time, they found that their huts were being ransacked while they were out. They only understood what was happening when they finally caught glimpses of their rarely seen neighbors, uncontacted Mashco Piro tribespeople who lived deep within the park.

With forest rights, indigenous Indonesians stave off mining, palm oil

Governments maintain control over more than two-thirds of global forest area, much of which is claimed by local communities, RRI said in a recent report. In Indonesia, indigenous people are estimated to have ownership rights over 40 million hectares of customary forest and other land.

Around 1 in 9 people in the world — 821 million — are undernourished. After a prolonged decline, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations found that world hunger is rising once again.

The world’s food systems need to be transformed to curb this trend. Legally recognized and protected land rights for indigenous peoples and local communities in the developing world are a key part of revitalizing the world’s food systems. In particular, the rights of rural and indigenous women to support diverse, local agricultural production require urgent attention.

How Carbon Trading Became a Way of Life for California’s Yurok Tribe

A number of experts now believe that reclaiming land for indigenous people is the best way to protect the Earth’s forests. According to the Rights and Resources Initiative, an N.G.O. that advocates for native land rights, legally recognized indigenous forests “tend to store more carbon and experience lower rates of deforestation.” But in a recent report supported by data from the Woods Hole Research Center, the initiative found that while indigenous communities currently manage forests and soil containing nearly three hundred billion metric tons of carbon—thirty-three times more than global energy-related emissions in 2017—they lacked legal titles to the sites of at least a third of that carbon total.” This puts “them, their forests and the carbon they store at great risk,” Alain Frechette, one of the authors of the initiative’s report, said.

How green is my forest? There’s an app to tell you

A web-based application that monitors the impact of successful forest-rights claims can help rural communities manage resources better and improve their livelihoods, according to analysts.

Indigenous peoples and local communities in 64 tropical and subtropical countries occupy land storing nearly 300 billion metric tons of carbon above- and below-ground. That’s equal to 33 years of pollution, given a 2017 baseline. Where indigenous peoples live, high-tech mapping indicates, deforestation rates are dramatically lower, especially in the relatively few places where they have land ownership rights.

“If appropriately leveraged, natural climate solutions can contribute upwards of 37 percent of cost-effective CO2 mitigation by 2030 and evidence shows Indigenous Peoples and local communities are key to achieving such outcomes.” This is one of the key conclusions from the global baseline study described as “the most comprehensive assessment to date of carbon storage in documented community lands worldwide.”

Fight climate change by granting indigenous rights to forests: report

Granting forest dwellers legal rights to their traditional lands helps fight deforestation and climate change, but the vast majority of the world’s forests remain under government control with limited access for communities, researchers said. Only about 14 percent of forests, or about 527 million hectares, were legally owned or designated for local communities in 58 countries surveyed by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), a Washington D.C.-based advocacy group.

The NGO Rights and Resources International (RRI) estimates that indigenous peoples have legally recognized rights to just 10 percent of the world’s land, though they control as much as 65 percent through customary, community-based tenure systems. Anne-Sophie Gindroz, RRI’s facilitator for South East Asia, said that the law isn’t only failing indigenous communities when it comes to awarding them title to their traditional lands. 

Estimate of carbon in indigenous lands rises five-fold

Land managed by indigenous people holds vastly more carbon than previously thought, according to a report that calls for an urgent strengthening of their land rights to avoid its release into the atmosphere. But while communities have succeeded in securing governmental recognition of their forest rights for 15 per cent of forests globally, the pace of recognition since 2008 has decreased, according to the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), the organisation behind a second report.

Estimate of carbon in indigenous lands rises five-fold

While communities have succeeded in securing governmental recognition of their forest rights for 15 per cent of forests globally, the pace of recognition since 2008 has decreased, according to the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), the organisation behind a second report.

In support of the Special Rapporteur’s report, a new website brings together audio and written testimony provided by indigenous leaders on this pervasive problem worldwide. The report and supplementary materials describe a systematic attack on indigenous land and human rights defenders around the world, an effort to silence those who oppose development projects on their lands.

Governments and corporations are increasingly using legal persecution to portray indigenous activists as criminals and terrorists, putting them at heightened risk of violence, the United Nations said on Monday. Indigenous leaders and campaigners fighting to protect land from development are being stymied and silenced by rising militarization, national security acts and anti-terrorism laws, according to a report submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Land Rights Are the Invisible Investment Risk Too Many Ignore

Land conflicts can be fatal for burgeoning agribusiness or other enterprises located in rural regions, but many companies have limited knowledge of how to anticipate and evaluate land-related risk. This is particularly true for land held under collective arrangements by Indigenous peoples or other communities, which is seldom formally documented.

None of these measures can be achieved if forests are not at the heart of land use policies, development strategies, and actions that go far beyond the forest sector. Consequently, there has been an increased emphasis on certain sustainable management practices, especially those that can integrate multiple sectors to evaluate the opportunities of food, water and energy security.

Thai activist to appeal sentence for trespassing in national park

Indigenous and local communities own more than half the world’s land under customary rights. Yet they only have secure legal rights to 10 percent, according to Washington D.C.-based advocacy group Rights and Resources Initiative.

The rapid growth of protected areas from Peru to Indonesia has exacerbated their vulnerability: more than 250,000 people in 15 countries were evicted from such areas from 1990 to 2014, according to RRI.