Forest Governance by Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.

April 1 2021.


A new report titled Forest Governance by Indigenous and Tribal Peoples has been released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC).


  • On the basis of over 300 studies published in the last two decades, the new report highlights that Indigenous and Tribal Peoples have generally been much better guardians of their forests in comparison to those responsible for the region’s other forests.
  • The deforestation rates in the Caribbean and Latin America are lower in Indigenous and Tribal territories.
  • Indigenous and tribal peoples and the forests in their territories play important roles in regional and global climate action as well as fighting against hunger, poverty, and malnutrition.
  • These territories contain about 1/3rd of all the carbon stored in the forests of Latin America and the Caribbean and 14% of the carbon stored in tropical forests worldwide.
  • The best results were found in indigenous territories that have recognized collective legal titles to their lands: between 2000 and 2012, deforestation rates in these territories in the Brazilian, Bolivian, and Colombian Amazon were only 1/2 to 1/3rd of those in other forests with similar ecological characteristics.

Titled territories suffer lower deforestation, emit less carbon

  • As per one of the studies analyzed in the FAO/FILAC report, the deforestation rate inside indigenous woodlands where the land property has been ensured is 2.5 times lower than outside such areas in Brazil, 2 times less in Colombia, and 2.8 times lower in Bolivia.
  • In these three countries, the titled collective territories were found to avoid between 42.8 and 59.7 million metric tons (MtC) of CO2 emissions each year.
  • These combined emissions were equal to taking between 9 and 12.6 million vehicles out of circulation for one year.
  • As per the FAO/FILAC report, the costs involved in securing indigenous lands are 5 to 42 times lower as compared to the average costs of avoided CO2 through fossil carbon capture and storage for both gas-fired and coal power plants.

Indigenous and tribal peoples are invaluable agents against climate change

  • It should be noted that around 45% (half) of the intact forests in the Amazon Basin are present in indigenous territories.
  • The area of intact forest decreased by only 4.9% between the years 2000 and 2016 in the region’s indigenous areas.
  •  However, in the non-indigenous areas, the decline was 11.2%.

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