PROTECTING FORESTS AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES THROUGH LAND TITLING IN PERU
Peru is home to one of the world’s largest tropical forests, surpassed only by those in Brazil, the Congo and Indonesia. Forests occupy more than half of the country’s territory, with the largest area being in the Amazon. Peruvian forests are home to a great diversity of species and provide goods and services that are fundamental to the country’s development and to the well-being of its inhabitants, especially the indigenous peoples. But every year, between 118,000 and 177,000 hectares of the country’s natural forests are destroyed. Without proper land titling and zoning, forests in indigenous communities are being further threatened and risk disappearing rapidly.
The Awajún people live in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, near the border with Ecuador. Currently, they possess titled community lands in four regions: Amazonas, Cajamarca, Loreto and San Martin. Land titling of indigenous peoples’ territories is one of the REDD+ pilot measures being implemented through a bilateral agreement between Peru and Norway. Trained indigenous technicians have made this work at the community level possible, as they possess both the technical knowledge to implement the process, and the trust of their communities.
“The titling of our community lands has been an important step to better protect our territories and our forests,” says Oswaldo Juep Danduck, who grew up in the Awajun community of San Martin. “I am happy I was able to support this rather difficult process in several communities.”
“The titling of our community lands has been anOswaldo Juep Danduck
important step to better protect our territories and our
Danduck was one of 325 indigenous technicians trained in REDD+ processes and sustainable forest management by UN-REDD. His REDD+ training not only enabled him to provide advisory and technical assistance to the indigenous communities of San Martin, but also to share his knowledge on climate change and its impact on livelihoods and forests. There were some significant hurdles to overcome, as some titles overlapped with titles from other communities; certain areas were already defined as forest concessions; and other areas were occupied by outsiders. Although forests are very important to indigenous peoples in the region, every community member has their own interests and economic needs that can sometimes lead to logging or selling parts of the land.
“Even though our lands are titled, there is still a long way to go,” says Danduck. “We are working on zoning the territory and creating a plan for the future to manage our territory well and ensure our people, as a community, make good use of it.”
“Forests are everything to indigenous peoples,” he says. “The forest contains our ancestral indigenous knowledge. Our medicine, our cosmovision, our food, how we live, our crafts, how we dress. All is to be found in the forest.”