Our “PROJECT ARANYA” Programme works to support indigenous and forest people to live safely and securely on their lands, and to be free to decide their future, free from coercion.
Through advocacy, practical projects and capacity building, we support forest people to deal directly with the outside powers that shape their lands, lives and futures,envisioning a day when forests are owned and controlled by the people within them, ensuring sustainable livelihoods, equity and well-being for future generations.
People who live in these forests have customary rights and have developed ways of life and traditional knowledge that are attuned to their forest environments. Yet forests are commonly treated as empty lands controlled by the state and available for development, colonisation, logging, plantations, dams, mines, oil wells, gas pipelines and agri-businesses. These encroachments often force people out of their forest homes, and even many conservation schemes such as wilderness reserves and protected areas also deny forest people's rights.
We serve to bridge the gap so that forest people can influence the outside powers that shape their lives and futures.
Our Strategic Approaches
Supporting and advancing the exercise of self-determination by indigenous and forest people by strengthening community governance, mobilisation and representation, and the creation and use of political spaces where indigenous and forest people’s voices can be heard.
Access to Justice
Ensuring access to justice by developing and using accountability and redress mechanisms in both public and private institutions that are directly accessible to indigenous and forest people and their communities.
Legal and Policy Reform
Partnered advocacy towards legal and policy reform and the development of best practice and standards consistent with indigenous and forest people rights in international law.
Networking, sharing information and building solidarity for coordinated action.
Gender equality is an incredibly important part of all of the work we do to support forest people. In all of our programmes, our aim is to foster a safe, participatory and inclusive environment for women and men to consider, discuss and determine (separately or together, as appropriate) the rules in their own community, on the basis of a broad human rights framework.
If forest people are to survive and flourish, then they need secure rights to the lands, territories and natural resources that they have always depended on. Under law, governments have an obligation to respect and protect indigenous people’s land rights. For forest people themselves secure rights to their lands and territories are not just a matter of law, they are the ground of their being and the source of their identity. Long term stewardship of lands and forests requires that communities have clear rights and the authority to own, use, manage and control these areas.
Our “PROJECT ARANYA” Programme puts land security at the heart of our work. We help forest peoples clarify their land rights, map the way they own and use lands and forests, file claims for government recognition of these areas and develop long-term community plans so they can act as effective custodians of natural resources that their livelihoods depend on.
Lands and natural resources are often coveted by other interests – loggers, miners, ranchers and agribusinesses, plantations and even conservationists. Ensuring respect for forest people’s land rights are thus often at the core of PROJECT ARANYA’s engagement with these other sectors. We seek to ensure that people’s self-determined development is grounded in strong and respected rights to land, territories and resources.