Indigenous-Owned Areas of Atlantic Rainforest in Brazil See Less Deforestation
A study published by the British scientific journal PNAS Nexus has found that Indigenous-owned areas of the Atlantic Rainforest in Brazil experience less deforestation if Indigenous peoples hold title to their land. According to the lead author of the study, Rayna Benzeev, from the US University of Colorado, the result was an “increased forested area by 0.77% [each year], compared to those lands where those rights were not granted.”
The Atlantic Rainforest, located along some 3,000 km of Brazil’s coastline, is the second largest tropical forest in the country and is highly vulnerable to urbanization and exploitation. Jera Poty Mirim, a Guarani official, acknowledged the land rights of Indigenous peoples saying, “Even before reaching the final stage for the recognition of our rights, we already started to deal with our forests and plant our traditional crops.”
Article 231 of the Brazilian Constitution establishes “original rights” over traditionally occupied Indigenous lands and its protection. However, deforestation continues, with illegal miners and conflicts between ranchers, farmers and tribes. According to Global Forest Watch, Brazil has lost over 20 million hectares of forest between 2000 and 2020 – that is 6% of itsforest.
Paulo Moutinho, a scientist from the Amazon Environmental Research Institute in Brazil, argued that “giving land titles to Indigenous peoples is crucial if we want to guarantee an end to deforestation and preserve climate balance.”