Indigenous Peoples’ Forest Tenure
Reduced / Sequestered
(To Implement Solution)
Indigenous communities have long been the frontline of resistance against deforestation; mineral, oil, and gas extraction; and the expansion of monocrop plantations. Their resistance prevents land-based carbon emissions, and maintains or increases carbon sequestration.
Indigenous and community-owned lands represent 18 percent of all land area, including at least 1.2 billion acres of forest, containing 37.7 billion tons of carbon stock. Growing the acreage under secure indigenous land tenure can increase above- and belowground carbon stocks and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation.
Beyond carbon, indigenous land management conserves biodiversity, maintains a range of ecosystems services, safeguards rich cultures and traditional ways of life, and responds to the needs of the most vulnerable. Practices include:
- home gardens,
- agroforestry systems,
- shifting swidden cultivation,
- pastoral approaches to raising livestock,
- fire management, and
- community managed forests.
Indigenous communities are among those most dramatically impacted by climate change—despite contributing the least to its causes—because of their land-based livelihoods, histories of colonization, and social marginalization. More can be done to recognize the unique impacts climate change has on them, as well as their critical contributions of traditional knowledge and practices.
Indigenous peoples have secure land tenure on 497 million hectares globally, though they live on and manage much more. If forestland under secure tenure grows by 995–1141million hectares by 2050, reduced deforestation could result in 8.7–12.9 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions avoided. This solution could bring the total forest area under indigenous management to 1.14 billion hectares, securing an estimated protected stock of 187–215 gigatons of carbon, roughly equivalent to over 687–786 gigatons of carbon dioxide if released into the atmosphere.