Land and Resource Rights
In This Section
Lands and resources are the lifeline for indigenous peoples and forest communities.
We support these communities by helping them map their traditional lands and by providing them with legal and advocacy training so they are equipped to defend their lands and livelihoods.
Land and resource rights are essential for forest communities and indigenous peoples whose livelihoods and survival depend on them. Challenges indigenous peoples and forest communities in the Congo Basin, often face include:
- A lack of secure rights to the lands they have inhabited and protected for hundreds, even thousands of years. The crucial rights of communities to own lands are not recognised at all.
- Their hunting and gathering lifestyles are not considered “valid” forms of land use by decision-makers and as a consequence, these lands can be considered as “vacant”. Land can then be allocated to resource extraction companies or other users, and community rights completely ignored.
- Frequently being driven off their lands to make way for logging concessions, mining operations, national parks and large “development projects” such as dams.
In Peru, existing land rights frameworks are being undermined.
We support improved recognition and implementation of land rights through documenting the traditional territories of indigenous and forest communities.
We aim to ensure that existing laws for land rights protection are enforced, and where these are not adequate, we advocate for changes to ensure stronger rights for forest communities and indigenous peoples.
RFUK works to tackle the challenges of communities’ lack of control of lands and resources through:
- Putting people on the map. We support forest peoples to map their lands and resources and to use this information as a basis for upholding their rights.
- Legal and advocacy training for communities and the organisations that support them, to enable them to engage in processes of developing and implementing legislation that affects their rights.
- The promotion of local knowledge and traditional methods used by indigenous and traditional forest communities to sustain rainforests.
- Legal and policy analysis to encourage and influence changes in the law, or better enforcement of existing laws.
Achievements to date
- We have mapped over 2.5 million hectares of land in the Congo Basin, with the aim of documenting a further 2 million hectares of rainforest and its use over the next 2 years.
- We have trained over 60 GIS technicians, over 100 mapping facilitators and more than 2,300 community mappers.
- We have launched the first ever online databases of community lands and forest governance for Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo and Gabon - MappingForRights.org
- Our advocacy work has led to improved laws and legal implementation on land rights for indigenous peoples and forest communities.
- We have successfully challenged a number of laws and legal revisions that threatened to diminish the rights of forest communities and indigenous peoples.
- Our Community Legal Fieldworker programme has, to date, supported over 100 forest communities and over 230 people have been trained as paralegals.