A new center is using mapping and legal services to help establish that indigenous people are rightful owners of rainforests around the world, in turn protecting those forests so that they can keep sequestering greenhouse gases.
Tropical rainforests controlled by indigenous people currently store 25% of the world’s carbon emissions. At the same time, “controlled” is usually something of a misnomer. While indigenous communities claim ownership of up to 50% of the world’s land, they’ve only legally secured about 10% of it. Many aren’t able to prove–with evidence accepted by courts–that the areas they’ve occupied for generations are technically theirs, giving industries the ability to work out claims or annexations of ancestral territories for mining, hydropower plants, or palm oil plantations, all of which destroy the land.