Indigenous People at the Heart of Conservation

They are keepers of some of our planet’s most important knowledge. With a deep connection to nature and reliance on natural resources, they are critical partners in stewarding our world’s lands and waters. Yet the voices of indigenous peoples are often excluded when planning conservation, environmentalism and sustainability.

The Nature Conservancy is committed to partnering with and honoring the knowledge and rights of indigenous people around the globe. Together we can create lasting positive outcomes including a sustainable economy that protects nature, communities, livelihoods and cultures.

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On our coast where tribes have lived in concert with nature for centuries, Washington Coast Works is an annual business competition that offers training, support and cash for sustainable small businesses including many start-ups run by tribal members.

 TNC is working in partnership with local Indigenous communities to conserve over a quarter-million acres of old-growth forest along British Columbia's southern coast in Clayoquot Sound. Photo by Bryan Evans.

TNC is working in partnership with local Indigenous communities to conserve over a quarter-million acres of old-growth forest along British Columbia's southern coast in Clayoquot Sound. Photo by Bryan Evans.

Washington’s coast is part of a large, interconnected area of forests, rivers and sea that runs all the way to south east Alaska.  This Emerald Edge is home to indigenous and local communities whose survival depends on sustainable natural systems.  In the quest for a sustainable future, a land-use vision by the Ahousaht First Nation conserves hundreds of thousands of acres of old growth forest on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

In a very different part of the world, South America, a similar model is allowing indigenous-led conservation to steward more than 13 million acres of land in Brazil.  That level of engagement works in Tanzania where people are at the heart of conservation, working in partnership to conserve wildlife, secure land rights for hunter-gatherers and pastoralists and protect elephants.

 Hamesi Hasani scowers the landscape looking for game to hunt near his camp in the Hadza Bush of the Central Rift Valley, Tanzania. The Nature Conservancy is helping protect the land that the Hadza people of Tanzania depend upon to maintain their hunter gatherer way of life. Photo credit: © Nick Hall

Hamesi Hasani scowers the landscape looking for game to hunt near his camp in the Hadza Bush of the Central Rift Valley, Tanzania. The Nature Conservancy is helping protect the land that the Hadza people of Tanzania depend upon to maintain their hunter gatherer way of life. Photo credit: © Nick Hall

When indigenous people and local communities lead in conservation, the outcomes are lasting. Communities, cultures, traditions and livelihoods are preserved at the same time plants, animals and natural systems flourish. It’s one of many connections between The Nature Conservancy’s work in Washington and around the world.


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Banner photo: Xikrin children are painted in the Pot-Kro Village near Rio Bacaja. Photo by Kevin Arnold.