RIO DE JANEIRO, APRIL 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) -
P roviding formal land ownership titles to indigenous communities
is one of the most effective ways to preserve endangered
rainforest in Peru's Amazon, said a study published on Monday.
Forest destruction dropped 75 percent on land once it was
formally granted to indigenous communities, said the study by
American researchers published in the Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences.
Analysing satellite data and land ownership certificates,
the researchers compared forest cover on territory before and in
the two years after it was formally titled to indigenous
They make the case that granting land titles to indigenous
communities who currently control about 10 million hectares of
forests in Peru has direct, measurable benefits for Amazon
"Titling reduces forest clearing by three-quarters," said
Allen Blackman, a senior official with the Inter-American
Development Bank and a co-author of the study.
The Amazon is the world's largest tropical rainforest,
teeming with biodiversity and spanning nine countries in South
America - the bulk of it in Brazil. More than half of Peru's
territory is Amazon rainforest.
Protecting the Amazon, which has been shrinking in Peru due
to illegal logging and other activities, is crucial for
combating climate change because forests suck greenhouse gases
out of the atmosphere and regulate the planet's climate.
"Communities without titles don't have the legal standing to
complain to regulators when their lands have been encroached
on," Blackman told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Once land has been formally titled, indigenous communities
can get advice from government regulators on the best tactics
for forest preservation and other official services, Blackman
With a fast-growing economy based on mining and its natural
resources, the Andean nation of Peru has about 1,200 indigenous
communities inhabited by 330,000 people, researchers said.
Indigenous activists hailed the study.
"Giving indigenous communities formal legal title to our
lands protects tropical forest from illegal logging," said Edwin
Vazquez, a land rights campaigner with the Peru-based
Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River
"Without us, the mission to slow the emissions that threaten
the ... health of our entire planet is doomed to failure,"
Vazquez said in a statement.
Indigenous communities and local residents manage about a
third of all forests in developing countries - more than twice
the share in government-protected areas, Blackman said.
The study implies that titling land for indigenous people
could be effective for forest conservation in other countries,
Blackman said, but more research is needed to test that
(Reporting by Chris Arsenault @chrisarsenaul, Editing by Alisa
Tang. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the
charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian
news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate
change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org)