Posted on May 19, 2020

EcoEducation: Global Conservation in Partnership with Indigenous Peoples

This was a topic that intrigued a lot of people based on the number of guests attending!  We hope you all enjoyed your EcoClub experience and will come to another meeting.  Rane Cortez of the Nature Conservancy shared the why and how behind their partnership with indigenous peoples to conserve threatened ecosystems across the globe.  So far, these partnerships have helped conserve and improve 250 million acres and 1 million indigenous peoples.  
We learned that about 17% of the forest sequestered carbon is on indigenous people's land.  Keeping this land managed by indigenous people is a way to ensure its long term conservation and prevent the release of this carbon.  There are four pillars of the Nature Conservancy approach: 1) secure rights for the indigenous peoples to their territories and resources - which requires mapping 2) match the indigenous peoples' knowledge with science and technology 3) convene platforms to bring all the stakeholders in a region together and 4) provide economic opportunities that are sustainable for the land and for the indigenous peoples. 
An example of this approach in action is in Mongolia which holds the world's largest temperate grassland - about 120 million hectares.  Indigenous people were abandoning traditional herding practices and the grasslands were being over grazed.  The Nature Conservancy worked with local herders and mapped the traditional herding areas.  It helped the herders gain rights to these lands including the right to manage the land and keep out mines and other herders. There is a goal to protect 30% of this grassland by the year 2030. 
Another example is in Australia which holds the world's largest tropical savanna.  Indigenous peoples used fire to manage this land.  After forced resettlement, management of the land stopped.  Catastrophic fires resulted.  By partnering with indigenous peoples and reintroducing their land management techniques, late dry season fires reduced by 25%.  The indigenous land managers were able to sell the carbon credits they earned (awarded via The Emissions Reduction Fund to projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from intense late-season fires by conducting controlled burns in cooler months). This combination of land stewardship and economic opportunity is a hallmark of the Nature Conservancy program.