Indigenous rights are vital to protecting forests

Amazon rainforest

A new study has revealed that the planet’s indigenous communities need to be given a bigger role in helping to solve the ongoing climate change crisis.

Research carried out by the Rights and Resources Initiative, Woods Hole Research Centre and World Resources Institute hopes to include tribal involvement in national action plans.

The expansion of tribal land rights is the most cost effective method of protecting the forests and cutting carbon. At least a quarter of forest carbon is stored on communal land, Brazil in particular.

However, this is currently not the case for 167 out of 188 nations. In the United Nation’s Paris Agreement, it is required that all nations must undertake ambitious efforts to fight climate change and adapt to its effects.

It has a central aim of keeping the global temperature increase, below 2 degrees celsius and enters into force on November 4th this year.


Alain Frechette, one of the research’s authors, has backed national governments to include indigenous communities in climate policies: “When communities have secure forest rights, not only are the forests better protected, but the communities fare better. Everyone wins.”

He added: “By contrast, large scale development plans produce quick wins, but the long term environmental, economic and political costs are not accounted for, future generations are just left to pick up the pieces.”

The study estimates that community claimed lands secure at least 54,546 million tonnes of carbon, with ownership of a tenth of that land being either public, unrecognised or disputed. This raises major concerns that it could fall into the hands of developers, farmers or miners.

Nonetheless, citizens of countries far from the depths of the jungle are failing to acknowledge how they can help to solve the issue.

The reality is that just by recycling, refusing to buy products containing palm oil and choosing forest-friendly tissues and toilet roll, society as a whole can fight to protect the forests which we depend upon for our survival.