Forests are life.

We all depend on forests, but for millions of local and Indigenous people, forests are their homes, hunting grounds, and ceremonial lands –– in managing their forests, they ensure the survival of their community and their culture.

Indigenous and local communities have been successfully protecting and managing their lands since time immemorial, but local and national governments –– not to mention corporations –– often fail to recognize their land rights. Research shows that upholding Indigenous land rights is one of the most effective ways of stopping deforestation.

Indigenous communities are defending their lands not just for themselves, but for the rest of us as well. Despite only stewarding 28% of the world’s land, Indigenous territories protect 80% of the world’s biodiversity.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, has said it plainly enough: “[Indigenous Peoples] have stood as a proven solution to climate change for generations. Recognize our rights, and we can continue to do so for generations to come.”

Indigenous peoples and local communities occupy 50% of the world’s land and manage large carbon stores. Securing their rights is essential to preventing catastrophic carbon emissions.

Indigenous Peoples and local communities are on the frontlines.

Denied their rights and facing large-scale land grabbing of their traditionally owned lands, Indigenous communities are often on the frontlines of deforestation for industrial agriculture. When they assert their rights and attempt to protect their lands and forests, they frequently face intimidation, criminalization, and violence.

Too often, Indigenous environmental defenders do so at the cost of their own lives. Violence has disproportionately impacted Indigenous land defenders, with over a third of the 1,733 environmental defenders killed between 2012-2021 being Indigenous and Afro-descendents.

The expansion of industrial agriculture is not only one of the most significant drivers of deforestation, it is also significantly responsible for the violence Indigenous Peoples face. Agribusiness as a sector is responsible for most of the killings of environmental defenders, second only to mining.

Support forest defenders.

It’s imperative that we support Indigenous and frontline communities as they face land grabbing, criminalization, violence and more. We must support communities in their fight to gain legal rights to their land and ensure their ability to protect and manage it –– sustaining their ways of life and safeguarding the vast majority of the world’s biodiversity from extinction. By supporting those that protect the forest, we can slow the worst impacts of climate change.

Together, we can challenge corporate power.

We’re moved to action and determined to fight for the future, in part because of the big, bold resistance that frontline communities all around the world have been mounting for years. From Standing Rock to the Mississippi River Delta –– from the Indonesian rainforests, to the Congo Basin, to the Amazon in South America –– communities have been standing up to the extractive and agribusiness industries and they’ve been winning. Community organizing has won Indigenous land rights and revoked wrongfully issued government permits that would have allowed the destruction of Indigenous land. Community resistance has stopped new pipelines from being built, new coal plants from being developed, and new areas of forest from being cut down. Collectively, we can challenge corporate power and win.