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Indigenous peoples are often not recognized as the owners of their land, even if they have lived there for hundreds or thousands of years. Without official titles, many indigenous communities have had little recourse but to watch as government or corporate interventions have exploited and destroyed huge tracts of their forests without their consent.
With secure rights to their lands and natural resources, indigenous peoples can better defend their communities against unwanted development pressures. Indigenous peoples are effective guardians of the forests they live in. Today, most of the world’s large tracts of conserved tropical forests are in the hands of indigenous peoples.
Challenges: Indigenous groups face significant legal, technical and cultural hurdles to obtaining legal recognition of their land rights, including:
- Inadequate national legislation
- Difficulties with accurate marking of boundaries
- Lack of good maps and documentation
- Historic discrimination
- Unfamiliarity with legal systems
- Geographic isolation
- Providing legal and technical support for the titling and demarcation of indigenous territories, including mapping their boundaries, documenting land claims, and assisting ith complex administrative and legal procedures.
- Training and assisting indigenous leaders in negotiating with relevant government authorities to gain formal legal recognition of traditional lands and territories.
- Supporting traditional community decision-making processes relating to protecting and sustainably managing lands.