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Demarcating, Protecting and Managing Indigenous Lands in the Amazon: 'Lessons' for Borneo?

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Wentzel, Sondra
Conference: Survival of the Commons: Mounting Challenges and New Realities, the Eleventh Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bali, Indonesia
Conf. Date: June 19-23, 2006
Date: 2006
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/2116
Sector: Social Organization
Land Tenure & Use
Region: South America
Subject(s): IASC
indigenous institutions
citizen organization
land tenure and use
Abstract: "The Brazilian Amazon is home to more than 150 indigenous peoples which in the last decades have created a multitude of organizations at different levels to defend their rights and interests. In an ongoing struggle, they have gained recognition as indigenous lands (terras indigenas or TIs) for more than one million km2 or more than 20% of the Brazilian Amazon, almost half of this area with support from the G7-Tropical Forest Pilot Program which has been implemented since the early 1990s. TIs are a special legal category for state land destined exclusively and permanently for indigenous use and benefit which safeguards indigenous common property. "Drawing on experiences by Brazil's National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), and especially those gained in the context of two international development cooperation projects (in both of which the author currently serves as an advisor) which for ten years have supported the demarcation process with active indigenous participation as well as protection, economic and cultural initiatives by indigenous peoples in the TIs, the paper first succinctly describes the rather complicated process of legal recognition of TIs in the Brazilian Amazon. "It then outlines the main current and future challenges with regard to ensuring one of the major demands of the indigenous movement in the Brazilian Amazon, the long-term sustainability of the TIs as a permanent basis for indigenous autonomy, which include: - to finalize the processes of identification, physical demarcation and legal recognition of TIs against increasing resistance, -to protect the TIs against illegal external occupation and resource extraction which, given the legal status of the TIs, is a joint task for indigenous peoples and the state, -to support indigenous peoples and their organizations in conducting their own participatory processes of diagnostic studies, decision- making, planning, sustainable use and management of these areas and their natural resources, -to develop the capacities of indigenous professionals and organizations to implement these new types of activities and -to improve the availability, quality and coordination of government and NGO support services for indigenous peoples and their organizations. "The next section briefly compares the legal and de facto situation of indigenous peoples and their territories in Brazil to that of other Amazonian and Latin American countries, stressing the overall advances and similar challenges, but giving examples also for the rather substancial differences between countries. "The final part, based on the authorÃ?Â?Ã?ÂŽs previous experiences in Borneo in the mid 1990s, reflects about possible 'lessons' from the Amazonian experiences for indigenous peoples and their supporters in Indonesia, Malaysia and beyond. Since there are various relevant topics being worked on in both regions, a two-way-exchange of experiences is proposed."

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