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Recognizing and demarcating Indigenous lands leads to reduced deforestation and increased reforestation. That’s according to a new study that looked at more than 100 Indigenous territories in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest and found that legal recognition of those lands can have real, and measurable, impacts on centuries of deforestation.

“Our study contributes to an emerging body of evidence suggesting that rights-based policy for Indigenous lands can improve environmental outcomes,” said Marcelo Rauber, a co-author of the paper and researcher at the National Museum of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. “Known in Brazil as demarcação, the legal recognition of Indigenous peoples’ land rights provides Indigenous peoples with territorial autonomy, which support efforts to address longstanding human rights violations, land grabs, biodiversity loss and climate change.”

The Atlantic Forest stretches along Brazil’s Atlantic coast into Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina and once covered over 1 million square kilometers. Due to hundreds of years of defore... Read more

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