Keywords: Ancestral Lands; Communal Property Rights; Indigenous and Tribal Peoples; American Convention of Human Rights; Environmental Protection; Ecological Function of Property.
Human rights courts, such as the ECHR, usually afford protection to the environment only in an indirect way, when applying rules aimed at protecting different values, such as human life or private home, in cases involving an injury to natural or ecological goods. This article analyses the particular approach to the environmental protection developed by the IACHR when defining and protecting the right of communal property on the ancestral lands of indigenous and tribal peoples. The idea is that such a right encompasses a direct function of environmental protection due to the intrinsic ecological character of communal property. This entails important consequences also on the role of public powers in protecting the environment, as the very recent "Kaliña" case shows.