Indigenous peoples are the best stewards of Latin America’s forests

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Indigenous peoples are, according to the UN, the best stewards of forests in Latin America and the Caribbean, able to reduce rates of deforestation, loss of biodiversity and limit CO2 emissions.

Deforestation rates in Latin America and the Caribbean “are significantly lower in indigenous and tribal territories where governments have officially recognized collective land rights,” said a UN report released Thursday.

The document was developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC) on the basis of more than 300 studies published.

Thanks to the contribution of these indigenous peoples, between 42.8 and 59.7 million metric tons of CO2 emissions have been avoided each year in Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia.

These combined emissions are equivalent to taking between 9 and 12.6 million vehicles off the road for a year.

“This is the service that indigenous and tribal peoples render to society as a whole,” FAO regional representative Julio Berdegué said during the report’s presentation in Santiago, Chile.

Ensuring their security to allow them to occupy these territories is an efficient and cost-effective way to reduce carbon emissions, the report said.

But their presence “is increasingly threatened, as the Amazon approaches a tipping point that could have worrying consequences on precipitation and temperature and, ultimately, on food production and climate. global climate, ”say the authors.

Indigenous peoples physically occupy 404 million hectares in Latin America, or one fifth of the region’s total area.

Of this total, 237 million hectares (almost 60%) are in the Amazon basin, an area larger than France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom. -United together.