Securing and Enhancing Indigenous Land Tenure in Guyana
Amerindian Peoples Association (APA)
South Rupununi District Council (SRDC)
14 indigenous communities who will receive land title (and extensions to existing title); indigenous peoples in communities throughout Guyana who will benefit from a revised policy framework; indigenous representative organisations (District Councils); the National Toshaos Council, and the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs.
With one of the highest percentages of forested land of any tropical country, the majority of which is populated and used by indigenous peoples, Guyana has unique importance for indigenous rights, forest protection and climate change mitigation. As well as nearly 90% forest cover, it also boasts a very low deforestation rate. These two characteristics have made the country especially attractive to REDD+ schemes, while the creation of the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) has resulted in a renewed government effort in support of indigenous land rights through the GRIF-funded Amerindian Land Titling and Demarcation Project.
Nevertheless, around half of the indigenous communities in Guyana still lack fully secured titles. This makes it a key country for the Tenure Facility’s work, where we are supporting the 70,000-strong indigenous population – roughly 10% of the nation – in work to protect their cultural and practical links to the land, by securing legal ownership.
To read a brief overview of Guyana, click here.
For a timeline of land and forest rights in Guyana, click here.
"The vast majority of the 25 demarcated Villages (88%) are unhappy with their demarcation. Half of them are unhappy because of demarcation errors that have excluded significant portions of titled lands"
- Amerindian Peoples Association (APA)
This project will directly benefit 27 communities in Guyana, 21 of these communities being governed by the South Rupununi District Council (SRDC). It was proposed following a bottom-up approach. The project was developed by representatives of many communities through workshops in late 2018.
Through its land titling work, the project will contribute to more secure livelihoods for Guyana’s indigenous communities and to better stewardship of the country’s forest and water resources.
The project will be implemented at a time when the political climate for indigenous land rights in Guyana is more positive than it has been for several decades.
To title and demarcate around 2 million hectares of indigenous lands, whilst contributing to the establishment of a robust policy framework that advances indigenous land and resource rights in Guyana.
- Providing support to establish legitimate tenure rights in areas where traditional communal rights are not formally recognised.
- Providing support for community mapping, demarcation, and registration efforts.
- Strengthening the capacity of national organisations to provide land tenure related services to reach disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.
- Testing practical solutions to overcome implementation challenges.
- Assisting governments and communities to overcome administrative obstacles to land rights recognition and titling.
- Building capacity of government agencies responsible for titling and protecting indigenous and community rights.
- Support the delimitation, demarcation and registration of title deeds for 6 communities, including new communities with no title but also the extension of existing titled areas.
- Train community leaders and land technicians in land management, land-use planning, and conflict management.
- Secure collective lands and forests
- Establish village land cadasters and train young people in mapping and demarcation.
- Work directly with 8 Wapichan communities to secure title over their indigenous lands.
- Build capacity for ‘best practice’ approaches to land titling, monitor and manage their resources.
- Build skills within the community (such as map reading, GPS use).
- Work closely with the Government of Guyana to bring about changes in the key legislation.
- Support participation of community members in the demarcation process with the Government team.
- Support capacity building to indigenous communities and an expanded consultation process for the revision of the Amerindian Act 2006.
- Verification of applications to new land titles or to title extensions.
"In 2015, 31% of titled Villages and 80% of untitled lands had mining concessions imposed on them, while 34% of titled Villages and 79% of untitled lands were affected by State Forest Permits or logging concessions."
- Amerindian Peoples Association (APA)
- Identify target communities confirmed and updated.
- Submit land title claims for 14 communities.
- Successful communication and working relationship between the communities and the government in the titling process.
- Ensure and strengthen stakeholders’ support for the process.
- Draft and debate the proposed new Act, based on results of consultations.
- Raise awareness within communities of the new Act.
- Strengthen implementation of the Amerindian Act through the development of key implementing regulations.
- Establishment of functioning Indigenous Purposes Fund under the Amerindian Act.
- Establishment of Forum for progressing title claims and making input to policy.
- Land talks promote community-based protected areas as a solution.
- Develop plans for management and protection of natural resources in the Wapichan region.
- Recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ ownership and control of their customary lands as a basic right, not something that can be granted or denied.
- Definition of land by communities themselves.
- Recognition of Indigenous land rights and rights to give or withhold consent take precedence over sectoral legislation and regulations and, as a consequence, these will need to be amended to ensure the necessary levels of consultation, consent and impact assessment.
- Solution to the problem of third-party rights which have been granted in indigenous lands without their consent.
- Addressing of the management of the Indigenous Purposes Fund, which was in the 2006 Act but has never been operationalised.
- Removal of the requirement in the current Act that demarcation of the existing title must be completed before further extensions can be considered.
- Mandating of a titling process which is fully participatory and adheres to the principle of FPIC.
Paul Graham Atkinson