Lands under Indigenous tenure have better conservation outcomes, says U.N. special rapporteur

4 Jun 2019

Photo credit: Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples speaks at GLF Katowice 2018. GLF photo

Rights to customary lands, territories and natural resources have yet to be effectively recognized and conservation organizations can play a key role in supporting Indigenous peoples as they work to gain them, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples writes in Open Global Rights.

Although the world’s leading conservationists announced a “new paradigm” for protected areas which would respect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities in 2003, transferring new policies from paper to practice has been slow, Vicky Tauli-Corpuz writes.

The new paradigm remains in initial stages, hampered by the legacy of past violations and by the lack of legal recognition by states of indigenous peoples’ rights.

While the high rate of biodiversity in indigenous ancestral lands is well established, the contribution of indigenous peoples to conservation has yet to be fully acknowledged.

Traditional indigenous territories encompass around 22 percent of the world’s land surface and hold 80 percent of the planet’s biodiversity. An estimated 50 percent of protected areas worldwide has been established on lands traditionally occupied and used by Indigenous peoples. This proportion is highest in the Americas.

Among the principal challenges that indigenous peoples continue to face globally are difficulties in gaining legal recognition of collective ownership over their ancestral lands, especially when these have already been declared protected territories.

Read the full article on Open Global Rights here

Related: U.N. to launch global campaign against criminalization of Indigenous peoples

Learn more about this topic at the Global Landscapes Forum conference in Bonn, Germany, 22-23 June 2019.

Read Landscape News stories from the 18th session of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues here

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