World Rainforest Movement

WRM bulletins

Bulletin Issue 62 – September 2002


Indigenous peoples are the guardians of the forests. No-one is more interested than they are in ensuring the conservation of forests which are their homes, an integral part of their culture and provide for their livelihoods. All the previous WRM bulletins have reflected many of their struggles to protect the forests, but we have now decided to focus the entire bulletin on indigenous peoples, in order to both highlight the problems they confront and the solutions they are implementing to ensure the recognition of their rights as a first –though crucial– step to seriously address the ongoing forest crisis.

The present bulletin has been produced in close collaboration with the Forest Peoples Programme –which together with Fern acts as the WRM Northern Office– and with other people who are either members of indigenous peoples organizations or who support the rights of indigenous peoples. Regardless of the authorship of each article, they all reflect the hopes and struggles of the indigenous peoples themselves, as well as the importance of external collaboration for achieving their aims. We hope that this bulletin will help to encourage more individuals and organizations concerned with forest conservation to understand the central role played by indigenous peoples in this respect and thereby to increase support for their right to continue being the guardians of the forests.

We also hope this issue will make clearer to forest activists why we consider protecting human rights to be such a central issue for those concerned to curb deforestation. What indigenous peoples are calling for is respect for their rights –to ownership and control of their lands and territories, to exercise their customary law, to assent or refuse developments planned for their areas, to self-determination. Respect for these rights is not only a matter of justice, but will also result in empowering them to defend what is theirs: the forests.