Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities

Indigenous and Community-Led Conservation: Strong Leaders, Healthy Lands

Indigenous peoples and local communities hold formal rights to 18 percent of global lands — representing well over 20 percent of forest carbon stores and much of the Earth’s biodiversity.

With their important traditional knowledge and vast experience in environmental stewardship, indigenous peoples and local communities are uniquely positioned as conservation leaders.

One of the most effective ways to achieve lasting positive outcomes for nature and people is to partner with indigenous peoples and local communities on shared conservation goals. 

Stewards of the Lands and Waters

The natural world is central to the lives of indigenous peoples and local communities, yet complex challenges including the development of natural resources and climate change are threatening the environments on which their livelihoods and cultures depend.

The Nature Conservancy recognizes the significant contributions of indigenous peoples and local communities to conservation. Through collaboration across 27 countries and 750 million acres, we have fostered a shared commitment to environmental stewardship.

The Conservancy’s human rights-based approach to conservation incorporates traditional knowledge and cultural values. Our approach results in tangible benefits, including the conservation and improved management of 200 million acres and measurable benefits to 700,000 people.

Our programs:

  • Secure land tenure and resource rights
  • Support improved governance and local institutions
  • Assist in natural resource mapping, planning and management
  • Strengthen livelihoods and sustainable economic development

By strengthening capacity and leadership, indigenous peoples and local communities participate more fully in making the decisions that will shape their futures and the future of the landscape.  


The Nature Conservancy is a member of the Conservation Initiative on Human Rights (CIHR), a consortium of international conservation organizations that seek to improve the practice of conservation by promoting integration of human rights in conservation policy and practice.



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