Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous Peoples make up some five per cent of the world’s population – that’s one in twenty of us. Belonging to around 5,000 different groups or communities, Indigenous Peoples usually have (or had) their own language, cultures and traditions, influenced by their ancestral homelands.

sami people
FSC GD / Bablu Singh

Many of these Indigenous Peoples live and work in forests, or on the surrounding land – and that’s really important to FSC. We actively support the rights of Indigenous Peoples and prioritise these rights in relevant policies. In fact, the rights of Indigenous Peoples are prioritised in Principle 3 of the FSC Principles and Criteria (FSC P&C), which requires all FSC-certified forest owners and managers to identify and uphold Indigenous Peoples’ rights of land ownership, use of land, and access to resources the land may provide.

The FSC P&C requires FSC-certified businesses to uphold principles of free prior and informed consent (FPIC), that a community has the right to give or withhold its consent to proposals that may affect the lands it customarily owns, occupies or otherwise uses. This position is also supported by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169.

FSC Indigenous Foundation logo

FSC launches the Indigenous Foundation

To give a voice to Indigenous Peoples on the continued management and preservation of the world’s forests, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has established the FSC Indigenous Foundation.

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© Jose Balta

Interview with Head of FSC Indigenous Foundation

Francisco Souza, Director of the FSC Indigenous Foundation, shares his vision and expectations regarding this new body that will actively contribute to increase the level of engagement and communication between Indigenous Peoples, the FSC system and partner organizations. 

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FSC Indigenous Foundation Launches Global Development Alliance for Indigenous Peoples

The Indigenous Peoples Alliance for Rights and Development aims to create solutions to empower world’s Indigenous Peoples with long-term capacity to manage, develop, and govern their territories based on the principles of self-determined development, traditional practices, environmental conservation, and respect to their customary rights.

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The Permanent Indigenous Peoples Committee

In 2013, the Board of FSC International established a Permanent Indigenous Peoples’ Committee (PIPC), as an advisory committee to the board.

The PIPC advises the FSC Board on all issues related to Indigenous Peoples' involvement in FSC, including policies, standards, organizational presence, certification, and forest sector engagement. It is designed to create a genuine voice for Indigenous Peoples inside FSC, which will help strengthen and renew their engagement with FSC.

PIPC consists of representatives of Indigenous Peoples from all regions of the world, including: Canada; Nicaragua; Ecuador; Cameroon; Tanzania; Finland; Sweden; Russia; Malaysia; and, New Zealand.

Three Baaka women in their village near Ngombe
FSC GD / Arlene Chang

How the Indigenous Baaka of the Congo are saving forests

Brazzavile, Congo: Companies committed to sustainable forest management in the Congo are doing their part to advance the life of Indigenous Peoples, like the Baaka, with dignity. In return, the Baaka are committed to working with companies to meet the region’s timber needs while protecting their ancestral forest home.

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FSC Canada Partners with Wahkohtowin Development GP to Support Indigenous Peoples’ Rights

FSC Canada has developed a partnership with Wahkohtowin Development GP, an indigenous-owned company acting as an implementation body for First Nations’ economic development in Canada. The two organizations recently received funds from the Canadian Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. The funding will be used to assist with effectively implementing FSC’s new requirements to support Indigenous Peoples’ rights.

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Support our mission

During this unprecedented and difficult time, many foresters are continuing to work in FSC certified forests. In many rural areas, these jobs provide vital stimulus to local economies and communities, and are considered “essential services.” Please make a donation to support community foresters and all the people working hard to manage forests during the COVID-19 crisis. Donations collected will be bundled and directed to communities working in forests around the world. FSC is working with organizations representing foresters and your support will ensure that forests continue to be managed in responsible ways during a time of global crisis.

Get involved

Do you have a story about how FSC certification brought about positive change to your business, government or community? We'd love to hear from you.


FSC support to respect for Human Rights - 06/2019
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