The embattled indigenous peoples of Latin America are by far the best guardians of the regions’ forests, according to a UN report, with deforestation rates up to 50% lower in their territories than elsewhere. Protecting the vast forests is vital to tackling the climate crisis and plummeting populations of wildlife, and the report found that recognising the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples to their land is one of the most cost-effective actions. The report also calls for the peoples to be paid for the environmental benefits their stewardship provides, and for funding for the revitalisation of their ancestral knowledge of living in harmony with nature. However, the demand for beef, soy, timber, oil and minerals means the threats to indigenous peoples and their forest homes are rising. Hundreds of community leaders have been killed because of disputes over land in recent years and the Covid-19 pandemic has added to the dangers forest peoples face. Sateré-Mawé men collect medicinal herbs to treat people showing Covid symptoms, in a rural area west of Manaus, Brazil. Photograph: Ricardo Oliveira/AFP/Getty Images Demands by indigenous peoples for their rights have become increasingly visible in recent years, the report said, but this has come […]

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