Amerindian customary lands overlapped by mining concessions – APA report

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Most Amerindian villages are finding that their untitled customary lands are being overlapped by logging and mining concessions, the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) said in a report.

The report stated that most villages and communities visited for assessment by the association complained that mineral properties, exploratory mining permits, logging concessions, state forest permits or agricultural leases cover part or all of their untitled customary land.

It highlighted that none of the 29 titled villages−which accounts for 31 per cent−have their land titles overlapped by mining permits, concessions and/or mineral properties.
These include: Barima Koriabo, Waikrebi, Chinese Landing, Manawarin, Yarakita, Eclipse Falls, Baramita, Kariako, St Monica.

Twenty-five communities have mining concessions on their untitled customary lands−Sebai , Yarakita, Hobodia, Hotoquai, Powaikoru, Four Miles, Oronoque, Big Creek, Chinese Landing, Citrus Grove, Canal Bank, Arakaka, Kabakaburi, Kokerite, Barima Koriabo, Waikrebi, Assakata, Warapoka, Kaniballi, Santa Rosa, Kwebanna, Manawarin, Kariako, Baramita, Bethany, it stated, adding that timber or palm heart concessions affect titled lands of 10 villages.reportIt noted that many villages suffer land and resource conflicts, mainly with loggers and miners. The report expounded that 83 per cent of the villages and communities included in this study report past and present conflicts over land and resources.

“Two thirds of the conflicts are disputes with miners and loggers on both titled and untitled lands. There are also a few unresolved disputes about Church claims to land plots within the title area of Amerindian Villages,” it stated, adding that in other cases, the village council has rejected outsiders’ claims to land within a village title.

Although the Guyana Forestry Commission has resolved a few disputes with loggers, the report stated that it has not found any case where GGMC has successfully resolved land and mineral disputes.

The conflicts between villages and miners or loggers are not helped by the fact that different Government agencies appear to have different maps with contradictory information on Amerindian village title boundaries and mining and forestry concessions, eg Baramita, Kwebanna, Kabakaburi, the report also noted, adding that the Geonode database has similar problems, where digital information on concessions and Village boundaries do not always match the printed maps held by GFC, MIPA and GGMC.

“There are no official rules and clear processes to deal with outsiders occupying Amerindian titled lands and/or extension areas,” it added. (Guyana Times)

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