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Guyana

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Guyana has the opportunity right now to recognize land rights of
indigenous communities
on an unprecedented scale.

Guyana’s biodiversity is unparalleled: a walk through the rainforest might yield a view of red howler monkeys swinging from the trees, black caimans sunning themselves on the shore, stunning blue morpho butterflies landing on heart shaped leaves or giant river otters frolicking in the rivers.

Even before Guyana’s independence Indigenous communities were fighting to have their rights acknowledged. Today many communities including Wapichan, Akawaio, and Macushi have banded together to protect their way of life and the rainforests they depend on.

Some of the most pristine rainforests in the world are increasingly at risk. Mining and logging are threatening Guyana’s forests. But indigenous communities and organizations such as the Amerindian Peoples Association are fighting back to secure their home: the rainforest.

Land Titling: We work with organizations representing the Wapichan, Patamona, Akawaio and others to document and map their traditional lands, and follow up with the government to push for titles and extensions to their titles that take into account their current and historical ties to the land.

 

Mapping & Monitoring: We work with communities using smartphones and drones to map and monitor their lands. With far more precise maps, communities can ask for extensions to their land titles, identify threats to the rainforest and protect their lands from illegal encroachment.

 

Youth Media: We are training youth to advocate for their communities, document their lives, and use video, digital media, and other communications tools to reach out and make sure their voices are heard. 

Guyana Facts

77% rainforest cover
32nd most biodiverse country

Indigenous Communities

Are 9% of the population
9 Indigenous peoples

Known Species

1,263 animals
6,409  plants

Our Work

Started working in
Began with the
Today:

Featured Partners

APA

Help Indigenous communities protect their lands & help us protect the future!

Forests protected by indigenous communities are healthier and more robust, storing 44% more carbon per acre than unprotected areas.

Help Indigenous communities protect their lands & help us protect the future!

Make a difference

Just $5 saves an acre of Rainforest!

A Propitious Moment

Historically, the Guyanese government has shown itself reluctant to recognize indigenous peoples’ rights to their ancestral lands. It was only through years of effort that, in 2006, indigenous communities had an official process for obtaining recognition of their land rights. Unfortunately the government act created a process that facilitated the recognition of land rights only to indigenous villages and tiny tokens of rainforest surrounding them – not a community’s larger ancestral territory.

However, there have been signs that the current government in Guyana is open to acknowledging indigenous land rights and protecting the rainforest.

This change in government, combined with Norway’s commitment of USD $250 million to Guyana for forest protection, makes this the right time to push for significant land title reform. Like the change that took place in Brazil in 1988, Guyana has the opportunity right now to recognize land rights of indigenous communities on an unprecedented scale.

#IndigenousLandNow

Indigenous peoples have protected the rainforests in Guyana for over 10,000 years. They are fighting for the rainforest against those who would destroy it by mining and logging their lands, even as they continue to demand the legal recognition of their right to their homelands.

MEET A RAINFOREST DEFENDER

Laura George has dedicated her life to protecting indigenous rights.  Today she works for the Amerindian Peoples Association organizing communities throughout Guyana to protect their rights and their rainforest lands.  “People need to know that indigenous peoples have a lot of knowledge; we can contribute we have lot of information, and traditional knowledge.”

As a small child Laura lived happily in her rainforest home, playing in the river, eating fresh food and taking advantage of all the rainforest and her close knit village had to offer.  It wasn’t until she came to Georgetown, Guyana’s capital to study that she became aware of the rampant inequality indigenous communities faced and decided to fight back and protect her home.

She knows that in Georgetown its all too easy for people to ignore the exploitation that happens far away in the forests. “Most people live on the coast and don’t see the cost of mining and extraction on our communities. They don’t realize that there are people living there, that this is our home.  They don’t know that Guyana has a (legal) commitment to indigenous peoples.”

The world doesn’t need to be exploited for maximum financial gain. In the end we all live on the same planet. Indigenous people’s way of life is what has protected what we have in Guyana today. It’s really important that decisions laws policies promote and protect our way of life. It’s not only for us as a peoples, its for the country and for the whole world.

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