Indigenous rights in Colombia | WWF

Indigenous rights in Colombia

Finally regained

Over the past centuries, most indigenous people in Colombia did not hold legal rights to their territories. However, since the mid 80’s, the recognition of indigenous land rights has made a radical and positive change.
Between 1980 and 1990 the government recognized indigenous peoples’ ownership of an additional 15 million hectares. Since 1991, a new constitution established the multicultural character of the nation and valued the cultural diversity as one of the nation's most precious assets.

At least 10% of the Colombian Amazon, mainly in the foothills of the Andes, has already been deforested. The remaining 90% is largely under the collective ownership and use of some 55,000 indigenous peoples and there is relatively little colonization.

More than half of the Amazon region there has now been legally handed back to the indigenous peoples, in the form of legally recognized areas called resguardos. Indigenous resguardos encompass the areas of highest biodiversity in the Colombian Amazon. The remaining area of the Colombian Amazon forms the Amazon Forest Reserve.

Long-standing ties with the forest

The region has been inhabited for at least 10,000 years, and local indigenous people have developed ways of living in the rainforest that are based on the balance between human needs and those of ecosystems. Local environmental management has preserved the vast ecological diversity, and until now the tropical forest in this region remains relatively intact.
Download a factsheet on Indigenous people in the Colombian Amazon

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