We take issues around land tenure very seriously. Vichada is our home and we are committed to contributing positively to local communities; and this starts with our land holdings.
Colombia recognizes private land ownership and has a title registry system. Most of the land used in our operations was originally “baldio” (vacant) land and was only titled by the Colombian government in the last twenty to thirty years. The Colombian government also maintains a registry of land that was previously held by displaced people and of land that was forcibly taken. None of the land held by Forest First Colombia is listed on either of these registries.
We conduct formal due diligence on land titles of the land that is used in our operations. This due diligence includes a review of the prior use of the land. Prior to the acquisition of every property, we verify the previous landowners, and check their reasons for selling. In addition, we employ forestry guards who monitor occupancy of land as part of their duties.
Forest First Colombia engages with local communities on a monthly basis. A formal community liaison committee has been established for the community to have a means of raising any concerns that they have.
We have not encountered any requests by local communities to formalize rights over land. However, if this were ever to take place, we would support this process however we can, including by working with the relevant government authorities.
We are also committed to working with the government to ensure the rights of the existing land occupants are protected when government proposes changes in legislation, or the regulatory framework associated with land.