Protection and Sustainable Management of Indigenous Areas in the Amazon

Project description

Title: Protection and Sustainable Management of Indigenous Areas in the Amazon
Commissioned by: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Brazil
Lead executing agency: Fundação Nacional do Índio (FUNAI)
Overall term: 2007 to 2014

Brazil. Sustainable economic action, the indigenous Baré people. © GIZ


One-fifth of the Brazilian Amazon forest has been set aside as indigenous territories – this is equivalent to an area more than twice the size of Spain. As one of the major defences against deforestation in the Amazon Region, these territories are highly significant in terms of protecting the tropical rainforest and conserving biodiversity, while also helping to maintain the all-important carbon sinks in the process. Not least, they facilitate the enforcement of indigenous peoples’ right to self-determined development.

The demarcation process of new large-scale indigenous territories in the Amazon is now approaching completion. But legal certainty for indigenous territories does not signal the end of the major challenges facing this region. The areas still have to be protected against ‘invaders’ and their inhabitants empowered to manage their resources self-determinedly.


Effective protection and sustainable management of indigenous territories are improved.


Apart from the Brazilian National Indian Foundation, project partners include the Ministry of the Environment (Ministério do Meio Ambiente – MMA) and the umbrella association of the indigenous organisations of the Brazilian Amazon region (Coordenação das Organizações Indígenas da Amazônia Brasileira – COIAB).

Brazil’s indigenous peoples’ policy still has extensive legal, institutional and methodological deficits in how it handles the protection and management of indigenous territories. GIZ takes these shortcomings into account and promotes strategic initiatives and processes targeting the protection and management of indigenous territories at national and regional level. At local level, measures focus, amongst other things, on organisational development and professional training.

Furthermore, GIZ advises on the following strategic initiatives and processes.

  • Institutional capacity building and better inter-institutional cooperation in implementing the National Policy on Environmental and Territorial Management of Indigenous Land (PNGATI)
  • Improving national services for protecting and managing indigenous territories
  • Participatory mechanisms for indigenous peoples and their organisations

Results achieved so far 

  • With the support of German cooperation for sustainable development, 115 indigenous territories with a surface area of around 44 million hectares have been demarcated in the Amazon Region. The indigenous peoples were directly involved in the process.
  • German cooperation for sustainable development has also lent its support to around 130 small projects run by indigenous peoples. These projects serve to actively protect the demarcated territories, promote cultural activities, foster sustainable economic development and strengthen indigenous organisations.
  • On 5 June 2012, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff signed the decree establishing the National Policy on Environmental and Territorial Management of Indigenous Land (PNGATI) – a significant milestone and framework for the protection, management and exploitation of natural resources in indigenous territories. A long process of formulation, negotiation and consultation preceded the signature of this decree, which now forms the basis for implementing Brazil’s policy on indigenous peoples.
Brazil. Cultural appreciation, representatives of different indigenous peoples in the Brazilian Federal State of Mato Grosso © GIZ
  • A method for protecting indigenous territories has been devised that compares and evaluates the threats to individual areas. Thus, the foundations have been laid for the systematic allocation of resources for protection measures that focus on and take place in indigenous territories. This will provide future measures and projects with an orientation framework.

Additional information