Guyana: Region 7 Land Conference

Over 400 Akawaio and Arecuna men and women met for a land conference on February 28 – March 2, in the village of Phillipai on the Kukui River in Guyana. The tribes represent communities across the Upper Mazaruni, deep in Guyana’s forested interior. This meeting served as a summit, to chart a course towards the achievement of a legal title to their ancestral lands. Communities in the Upper Mazaruni have been fighting in defense of their homes for decades, both legally and, in some cases, physically.

Historically, these titles have been elusive for indigenous peoples. Six communities filed a lawsuit in 1998 seeking to secure title to their whole territory; that case is still pending, and a ruling is expected this year.  

The Upper Mazaruni land rights case is pivotal. For the most part, Guyana has not recognized the full territorial rights of indigenous peoples. Instead, it has titled communities village-by-village, leaving large swathes of traditional indigenous territories open to incursions by mining and logging interests. With a new government in office since 2015, it is hoped that Guyana will amend this policy, leading to recognition and protection of traditional indigenous lands throughout the country. Hope is high that these changes are coming, as the government has publicly committed to revising the Amerindian Act, the main piece of legislation outlining indigenous rights in Guyana. In addition to advancing human rights, this could have tremendous implications for forest protection. Guyana remains 85% forested, and indigenous peoples play a critical role in maintaining that forest cover.  

Click here for the public statement that the conference produced, which contains a number of recommendations for the forest’s protection.

The land conference in Phillipai also served to kick off participatory research on land tenure in communities throughout the region. This research seeks to inform Guyana’s land titling process, and maps created should help resolve pending issues. RFUS is collaborating on these efforts with the Amerindian Peoples Association, the Forest Peoples Programme, and local representative organizations, with support from the Norwegian Agency on Development Cooperation (NORAD).


Read More

Support Our Work

Rainforest Foundation US is tackling the major challenges of our day: deforestation, the climate crisis, and human rights violations. Your donation moves us one step closer to creating a more sustainable and just future.


Will you listen?

Now, through April 30th, your impact will be doubled. A generous donor has committed to matching all donations up to $15,000.

Any amount makes a difference.

Sign up today!

Get updates on our recent work and victories, stories from our Indigenous partners, and learn how you can get involved.

Didier Devers
Chief of Party – USAID Guatemala

Didier has been coordinating the USAID-funded B’atz project since joining Rainforest Foundation US in April 2022. He holds a Master’s in Applied Anthropology and a Bachelor’s in Geography. Before joining the organization, Didier worked for 12 years in Central and South America on issues of transparency, legality, governance, and managing stakeholders’ processes in the environmental sector. Prior to that he worked on similar issues in Central Africa. He speaks French, Spanish, and English, and is based in Guatemala.