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Study reveals the importance of indigenous land in climate mitigation

The excess carbon stored above the ground in the Amazon forests is essential to any climate balance strategy. A new scientific study, "The role of forest conversion, degradation and disturbance in the carbon dynamics of indigenous territories and protected areas in the Amazon", produced by Pan-Amazonian organizations, proves the importance of indigenous lands in maintaining carbon stocks in the Amazon, helping to regularize the climate.

Improving land management is essential if we are to achieve the goals set in the Paris Agreement. Based on this, the article published by the Journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences", identified that Indigenous Lands and protected natural areas in the Amazon are less prone to net carbon loss than unprotected regions. This is because the release of carbon, resulting from degradation of protected lands, is largely offset by the growth of forest vegetation - something that is not observed on unprotected lands. Of all the biomass estimated for the Amazon region - 73 billion tons of carbon - 58% or 41.1 billion tons of carbon are found in indigenous territories.

Public policies are needed for the protection of the areas. According to the investigation, 47% of the total loss of CO2 on indigenous lands in the Amazon belongs to concessions of mining activities, oil extraction and illegal burning. "This is a worrying percentage, given the importance that tropical forests have in providing ecosystem services, in addition to their role in carbon capture and storage," explains Carmen Josse, co-author of the report and researcher at the EcoCiencia Foundation, in a video on the Carbono Vivo website, a platform created to disseminate the study.

The results show that the ownership and management of indigenous lands are fundamental to protect the Amazonian forests against the growing demands for energy and land resources in the region. For scientists, indigenous peoples' techniques in controlling forests are global repositories of forest carbon or living carbon, and ensure a wide range of essential ecosystem services.

The research was conducted by scientists, policy experts and indigenous leaders from the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC), the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (Coica), the Amazon Institute of Environmental Research (Ipam), the Amazon Network for Socio-Environmental Information (Raisg) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). Raisg is a consortium of eight non-governmental organizations from six Pan-Amazonian countries (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela).

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