Protecting the Amazon Rainforest and Indigenous Rights
by Jackie-Ray on November 22, 2016 - 2:08pm
The article from the Guardian draws attention to the challenges of forest management within the Amazon in relation to climate change. Indigenous land rights are essential to push efforts of reducing deforestation. Climate change is linked to deforestation. The countries of South America that cross borders with the Amazon forest have claimed to eliminate deforestation rates. Countries including Peru, Brazil or Bolivia are committed to the Paris Accord and plan to take action in time for COP 20 targets. Despite the commitment to climate change and forest protection by state actors, these countries are lacking proper indigenous land rights. Evidence suggest that indigenous populations are highly efficient at managing forests. The article stresses how deforestation rates are much lower on indigenous land, but few of these communities actually have secure tenure. Signing on to these international agreements should come with improved indigenous land rights, but governments of Ecuador for example, are moving forward with mining exploration as it is a ‘national priority’. The state ignores indigenous rights and disregards their cultural values within the forest. These rights need to be secured in order to prevent further destruction from the state or international activity. The goal of this article is to express how indigenous are important actors for the climate change effort and are a solution for reducing the need for extensive mitigation efforts.
The current management of the Amazon is compromising the integrity of indigenous communities. Challenges like this are present in many other countries like Thailand, where the establishment of national parks turns out to be less beneficial than it was proposed to be. This article has described how the establishment of national parks has only led the state to gain more ability to do what it wants with the land, even if that means compromising indigenous rights and nature protection. Nature and people cannot be thought of as separate because people have been shown to improve land rather than destroy in every other case. Protecting livelihoods is just as important as protecting nature.
Public participation would be a way to improve the effectiveness of management within the Amazon that elaborates on the solution in the article regarding land tenure. In the article, it explicitly mentions how indigenous communities have a desire to be involved in climate change mitigation. Giving protected land rights allows them to make their own decisions for their land. Consulting and engaging with these communities will allow them to influence state decisions as well. As the article mentions Ecuador, state activities are known to have compromised the livelihoods of indigenous before. Co-Management is an effective way of conserving forests while maintaining resilient livelihoods. It can enforce inclusion of the indigenous input into decision making about the forests and reduce conflict. Conservation strategies without public participation can allow the state to use its’ authority to “trample over” indigenous rights, as the article puts it.
Traditional Ecological Knowledge provides insights for understanding changes within an ecosystem that technical science may not capture. The indigenous populations of the Amazon have deep connections with nature as their livelihoods depend on the health of nature. Their knowledge is based on generations of observations in nature that guide their activities. They know how to utilize the environment with little impact. As the article discusses, sometimes private landholders can protect an environment better than the state. Indigenous land rights are important for incorporating traditional ecological knowledge into forest management.
In conclusion, traditional ecological knowledge of the indigenous Amazonians is very valuable for developing strategies to protect the forests. Indigenous communities are excellent forest stewards, which is why their land rights should be strengthened. The state should allow traditional knowledge to contribute to their decisions so that nature and livelihoods are protected.
The Guardian. (2016). Amazonians call on leaders to heed link between land rights and climate change. Retrieved from