Much of the world’s land is occupied and used by Indigenous Peoples and communities — about 50 percent of it, involving more than 2.5 billion people. But these groups are increasingly losing their ancestral lands — their primary source of livelihood, income and social identity.
Governments, corporations and local elites are eager to acquire land to extract natural resources; grow food, fibers and biofuels; or simply hold it for speculative purposes. Most communities hold land under customary tenure systems and lack formal titles for it. While national laws in many countries recognize customary rights, the legal protections are often weak and poorly enforced making community land especially vulnerable to being taken by more powerful actors.
Communities, however, are not standing by idly. They’re increasingly taking action to protect their lands.
Here are five ways communities are defending their land rights.