top of page

Study Provides Blueprint for Engaging Locals in Forest Monitoring

During the UN climate talks in December 2015 that would ultimately produce the Paris Climate Agreement, indigenous leaders from Africa, Asia and Latin America presented a fairly simple proposition: give indigenous communities rights to their ancestral forests and end the criminalization of their efforts to protect those forests, and negotiators would have a powerful but affordable climate solution to work with.

There is an abundance of research to support this claim. It’s been estimated that as much as 10 percent of total global carbon emissions are due to deforestation. And according to an analysis by the World Resources Institute, by securing indigenous land rights in Bolivia, Brazil, and Colombia alone, we could avoid the release of up to 59 megatons of carbon emissions every year — the equivalent of taking 9 to 12 million passenger vehicles off the road.

In other words, “Securing indigenous forestlands tenure has significant potential for cost-effective carbon mitigation,” as WRI put it.

It’s not just in Latin America that huge carbon savings are to be had by securing land rights for indigenous and other local forest communities, either. In order to bolster their pitch at the climate talks in Paris, the indigenous leaders pointed to an analysis by the Woods Hole Research Center that found Indigenous territories in the Amazon Basin, the Mesoamerican region, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Indonesia comprise more than 20 percent of the carbon stored above-ground in Earth’s tropical forests.

UN Photo/Marie Frechon

bottom of page