Challenges for securing land rights of indigenous people in the Congo Basin – Jerome Lewis, UCL

Indigenous, hunter-gatherer peoples of the Congo Basin have a unique perception of the use of land. Their systems aim at ensuring abundance of forest resources and equal distribution among the people living in those forests. Dr. Jerome Lewis, Lecturer in Anthropology at UCL, talks about the need to take this vision into account to secure indigenous peoples’ right to the land they depend on and which they have protected for centuries.

One of the most important challenges is to uphold the rights of indigenous people in face of conflict with extractive industries and sedentarised forest communities. These actors are more powerful and in better position to claim exclusive rights over forest areas, thereby marginalising indigenous peoples and having severe impacts over their livelihoods and wellbeing. Indigenous land use systems, says Dr. Lewis, might provide the answer to harmonise conflicting claims and to promote a more sustainable use of forest ecosystems.