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Respect for Miskitu Land Rights

Countries:
Start project:
  • 2015
Donors:
  • ICCO
Partners:
  • Federacion Miskitu Asla Takanka

The project is implemented by miskitus indigenous communities represented by Territorial Councils to defend land rights in the honduran miskitu territories. The project has mainly three objectives: to defend land rights, to strengthen capacities and to promote social cohesion, and finally to involve women and youth in decision making processes. MASTA is member of the Mesoamerican Alliance of People and Forests, whom protect forests and territories from an indigenous perspective.

Clearing of forest for cattle ranching, monoculture plantations, unsustainable logging, hydro-electric projects, and mining are the main causes of deforestation and forest destruction in Mesoamerica. These processes are associated with increased forest degradation, pollution, biodiversity loss, water shortages, and damage to local economies and food security, as well as higher carbon emissions. Centralized governmental management models have proved to be insufficient to stop deforestation and forest degradation. Instead indigenous and community land management in Mesoamerica has proved effectiveness for natural resource conservation, climate change mitigation, and poverty alleviation, but communities do not receive adequate support to address the pressures they face.

Many still lack secure rights to their land and forest and/or financial and technical support for managing them. The governments and large producers are responsible for forest destruction, typically disregard the rights of indigenous and forest communities, and often threaten, put in jail, or assassinate community activists.

In this context, it is necessary to promote sustainable livelihoods and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and forest communities. Most of the remaining forest in Mesoamerica are land administered collectively by indigenous people and forest communities.

Miskitu Asla Takanka (MASTA) is a territorial organization formed by 11 Territorial Councils with 1,099,701.59 hectares of land and 51,417 beneficiaries. It is the highest authority of political representation, advocacy and ancestral identity for the Miskito indigenous communities in Honduras.

With this project, they advance land titling and dialogue with other indigenous groups with whom they share part of the R������������������o Pl������������������tano Biosphere Reserve (5,250 km of preserved land in La Mosquitia region of the Caribbean coast of Honduras). The reserve has endangered species and some of the Honduras largest sections of forest. It has been a World Heritage site and biosphere reserve since 1982. In 2011, UNESCO placed the reserve in the List of World Heritage in Danger. MASTA is still negotiating the deed titling of the Biosphere Reserve.

In Honduras, recent studies show that the loss of forests was140 times less in community managed forest
lands. In recent years, the government has issued land titles to 7, of 11 territories, in favor of indigenous communities; this represents more than 864,418.59 hectares of territory. To advance and consolidate land rights in Honduras, MASTA continues negotiating for the titling of the remaining 3 territories, with the goal of attaining the entire territories in custody of miskitus communities.

This project is financed by CLUA with co-financing from ICCO and other partners.

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