Peru has made significant progress in recognising the land and forest rights of Indigenous Peoples in law—but limited progress implementing the titling of collective rights on the ground. Throughout Peru, indigenous communities have insecure land tenure and their lands and forests are threatened by tourism, mining, illegal logging, and infrastructure projects. These threats have resulted in decades of violent conflict.
More than half of Peru is forested, and almost half, roughly 600,000 square kilometres, is under collective tenure where tenure rights are exercised by Indigenous Peoples and local communities in their ancestral domains. More than a third of these communities do not have clear title. An estimated 3,379 rural communities and 644 indigenous communities are at risk of losing the lands that sustain them, and in weak positions when addressing illegal logging and other threats to their lands.
According to the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP), more than 20 million hectares of the Peruvian Amazon claimed by Indigenous Peoples remain untitled. Lack of clear title increases the risk of deforestation, which provide vital carbon storage and are key to combatting climate change. Indigenous Peoples and local communities have proven the best stewards of the Amazon rainforest, with research in the Peruvian Amazon showing a significant drop in deforestation where communities have had their lands titled.
In addition to contributing to the fight against climate change, securing tenure will also reduce the conflicts that have plagued Peru and set the stage for Indigenous Peoples and local communities to lead their sustainable and equitable development. However, there are longstanding challenges to overcome. The land rights of Indigenous Peoples have not been a political priority, particularly where they collide with expansion plans for tourism, extractive industries, and infrastructure. Lack of capacity and resources within regional government institutions, indigenous organizations, and communities is also an obstacle to progress.
Decades of struggle by Peru’s Indigenous Peoples to secure their rights, and the support of USAID, other donors and many NGOs, have set the stage for advancement. Currently, donor-funded projects for titling the lands of indigenous and local communities total about US$80 million. This investment, coupled with the interest of government organizations, represents a tremendous opportunity to disseminate and replicate on a larger scale experiences, methodologies and tools for securing land rights in Peru.
In this context, the Tenure Facility and its partners successfully concluded a pilot project in 2017, which extended secure tenure over 64,000 hectares, as well as strengthening protections for indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation. In 2018, SPDA began upscaling the approaches tested in the pilot, moving beyond Madre de Dios to work with the Loreto regional government, the largest region in the Peruvian Amazon. As in Madre de Dios, the indigenous communities of Loreto have insecure land tenure and their lands and forests are threatened by tourism, mining, oil production, illegal logging, and infrastructure projects.
For a Land Governance Assessment Framework (LGAF), go here.
For a timeline of land and forest rights in Peru, click here.
To learn more about our partners’ work in Peru, see below.