Right to Protect Indigenous Lands: Biodiversity Implications

Right to Protect Indigenous Lands: Biodiversity Implications

Question: August 9th is celebrated each year by the UN as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Discuss the importance of protecting the right of indigenous people to their lands and its biodiversity implications.

- Interests of indigenous people and conservation of biodiversity are not only compatible, but also dependent on each other

- Many indigenous communities are traditionally forest dwelling cultures

- Close to 25% of the world’s forests are inhabited by indigenous persons

- Indigenous communities have lighter carbon footprint, ensure ecological conservation and healthier state of natural resources and habitats

- Indigenous lands have been protected through isolation and overlap or border protected areas

- Strengthening the rights of ingenious communities to their land is estimated to lead to conservation of more than half of the Amazon forest and its unique biodiversity

- Many conservation programmes for sustainable management of natural resources by indigenous communities support the latter For example, in NW Bolivia, cacao,f restore, incense, handicrafts, management of livestock, wild honey harvesting, timber management and other conservation activities generate yearly household income

- Conservation programmes also enable greater control over forests by indigenous persons

- Access to their ancestral lands and resources is also important for indigenous persons to engage in subsistence activities

- Indigenous territories also maintain the cultural know how pertaining to medical plants and crops essential to livelihood

- Apart from this, they also guard against climate change through diversification of agricultural production and maintenance of seed varieties providing options for adaptation to various climatic conditions

- Conservation programmes also assist indigenous communities to control illegal timber extraction, forest clearance by outside settlers and wildlife hunting

- It has been found that indigenous owned forests have lower deforestation rates

Facts and Stats

- UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Persons is critical for guiding conservation efforts of indigenous communities

- In more than 70 nations, there are 370 million persons who identify themselves as indigenous people

- Around 5000 varied groups of indigenous communities exist in the world

- There are close to 100 non contacted tribes in the world, as per Survival International

- One third of the world’s 900 million rural persons are indigenous people

- i in 6 languages spoken on the planet is from New Guinea

- Indigenous people account for 5% of the world’s population

- Traditional indigenous lands constitute 80% of the earth’s biodiversity
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