Forest Observatories Revolutionise Climate Action in the Amazon

December 8, 2023

As decision-makers discuss climate change from air-conditioned rooms at COP28, Indigenous peoples are taking climate action in their own hands. In Peru, for centuries, Indigenous communities have managed their traditional lands sustainably, linking their cultural identity to the health of their ecosystems. But they have also defended these lands from encroachment, illegal deforestation and countless destructive activities that threaten both their territories and their own survival. This work has been, and continues to be, vital to preserve the Amazon rainforest, the largest in the world and one of the most important stores of carbon and biodiversity in the world.  

In recognition of this role, many governments and organisations participating in COP28 and its predecessors have pledged to upscale support to Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities in an unprecedented way. Indigenous forest monitoring should be at the centre of these efforts.  

Our new report, Forest Observatories for the Defence of Indigenous Territories and the Conservation of Nature in the Peruvian Amazon, uncovers an innovative model, whereby a regional Indigenous organisation has been able to harness technology to document and denounce forest crime. In the complex context of Madre de Dios, one of the planet’s most biodiverse regions but also one of the most threatened by illegal mining, logging and organised crime, FENAMAD and the Indigenous communities it represents have managed to stave off illegal miners and other encroachers and tackle deforestation in their lands. Using RFUK’s ForestLink system, community members can report illegal activities from a user-friendly app, even from areas without connectivity. FENAMAD compiles these alerts and takes action to address them. In seven years, historic enforcement missions have taken place and legal rulings given in favour of Indigenous communities.  

Monitoring and territorial defence are a high priority for Indigenous groups all over the Amazon and beyond. The international community already recognises the need to raise their voices and participation as agents of change. The model that RFUK and FENAMAD have co-created provides a practical way to achieve this goal; it is replicable and scalable (already functioning in eight countries) and has achieved palpable results. Initiatives like this one should be at the centre of discussions around climate finance and action.   

Click here for the Executive Summary in English

Click here for the full Spanish language publication

Click here for the Executive Summary in Spanish

Our work is featured in September’s issue of the Environmental Scientist, which is now open access. 

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