Local communities and indigenous peoples are vital to the global environment. This can be attributed to the fact that the livelihood for the majority of them depend on forests and a number of other natural resources because of which they fiercely protect them. Such communities are critical to the sustenance of the planet. Here are a few reasons why.
A considerable amount of land is occupied by local communities
Studies have shown that about 50% of land belongs to local communities. Any and all activities on such lands happen under the supervision of these local communities. This however, does not mean that the land is under the ownership of these communities. Rather such lands are registered with the government. This means that the land can be taken away from the hands of these communities at any point.
Deforestation rates are lower in lands managed by local communities
Deforestation on the lands owned by indigenous communities are far less than the rates of deforestation in other areas. This is because such local communities use their unique approach to preserve the forests and the natural resources. In fact studies show that if indigenous communities are granted legal rights to certain areas, it could actually contribute to a significant reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases.
The lands operated under the supervision of local communities, stores about twenty five percent of the world's carbon that is located above the ground. This is critical in the environmental fight to control climate change. Certain lands under local communities in fact have carbon storages that equal the greenhouse gas emissions in a year from over two million cars.
Threats to local communities
Local communities are constantly facing threats because of a number of factors.
The construction and operation of dams have made life difficult for the local communities occupying these lands. Their communities are flooded by the water from the dams. These projects are not just a threat to the communities, but also to forests and rivers.
Indigenous lands are constantly under threat because of mining activities to recover precious metals such as gold and silver. A large fraction of forests are cleared away and the livelihoods of these communities become scarce. In addition, mining activities result in the pollution of water bodies, not to mention, a large number of these activities even displace these local communities from their homes.