With secure land tenure, Indigenous Peoples and local communities can realize human rights, achieve economic growth, protect the environment, and maintain cultural integrity. For centuries, Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs) have used, managed and depended on collectively-held land for food supplies, cultural and spiritual traditions, and other livelihood needs. Historically governed through customary tenure systems rooted in community norms and practices that often go back centuries, governments often consider such community land as vacant, idle, or state-owned property. Statutory recognition and protection of indigenous and community land rights continues to be a major challenge.
On the 11th June the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruled that the Ingonyama Trust (created as the last legislative act of the outgoing apartheid government in 1994) had adopted an illegal policy of forcing people living on land that had occupied for generations to sign leases and pay rent to the Trust.
As drought and climate change make fires worse, officials are returning to Native nations’ time-tested techniques. Returning the land would be better.
Biodiversity is plummeting, but restoring rivers could quickly reverse this disastrous trend.