Around the world, Indigenous communities conserve and nourish the biodiversity that is the base of their cultures.
A 2008 World Bank report, The Role of Indigenous Peoples in Biodiversity Conservation, declared that while indigenous people only make up 4 percent of global population, “Traditional indigenous territories encompass up to 22 percent of the world's land surface and they coincide with areas that hold 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity.
All too often NGO’s come in with good intentions, but with conservation strategies ideas that do not include the relational wisdom Indigenous nations have cultivated with their lands over thousands of years.
With accelerated global warming and habitat fragmentation caused by booming human populations and resource extraction, new strategies are urgently needed to maintain the processes that increase biodiversity. The next essential chapter in global biodiversity conservation requires Indigenous led conservation that keeps their land and culture intact.
Resource extraction from the planet’s remaining functional ecosystems is in opposition to Indigenous people’s needs for sustainably harvested medicines, fibers and foods.
The real test may be decades from now. Will people protect conserved areas or plunder them when socio-economic pressures increase? Indigenous peoples are far more likely to protect conserved areas that they themselves created.
Conservation that will benefit the true caretakers of an area is a slow process that is built relationally. Choosing where growing Indigenous populations can live, without cutting off critical wildlife migration corridors, requires land use planning processes that can account for population growth within the rainforest.
The enormous scale of conservation needed in the Amazon to maintain ancient evolutionary processes requires that Indigenous Nations lead the processes of conservation. The AAC supports Indigenous villages and nations in creating their own land-use planning boards that gain a consensus among the very people that depend on conservation to maintain their cultures.