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A groundbreaking report by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Resources and Rights Initiative (RRI), “Securing Rights, Combating Climate Change: How Strengthening Community Forest Rights Mitigates Climate Change,” has shown that deforestation rates inside indigenous territories and community forests with strong legal recognition and government protection are dramatically lower than in forests outside those areas.

In Brazil deforestation rates are 11 times lower in community forests with strong legal recognition and protection, in the Bolivian Amazon rates are 6 times lower, and in Peten in Guatemala rates are as much as 20 times lower. These figures suggest that securing indigenous land rights can be an excellent strategy for reducing deforestation across the globe.

This growing body of evidence linking strong community forest rights with healthier forests and lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from deforestation and forest degradation also makes a strong case for strengthening the rights of indigenous and local communities over their forests as a policy tool for mitigating climate change.

The key recommendations from the report, presented at the bottom of the infographic include:

·      Recognize and provide communities with legal protection for their forest rights.

·      Enforce community forest rights by mapping boundaries and expelling trespassers.

·      Provide technical assistance and training to forest communities.

·      Engage forest communities on investments affecting their forests.

·      Compensate communities for the environmental services they provide as effective managers of their forest.

As an organization we believe that the most effective way to protect rainforests is to ensure that the indigenous communities who have historically managed and protected those forests have secure and long-term rights to their lands and resources. This new report gives important scientific backing to the ecological effectiveness of our 25 years of work supporting indigenous peoples to claim and exercise their rights to their territories.