WHY WE CENTER INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES
The health of the world’s population depends on keeping ecosystems intact, and forest communities have the generational knowledge on how to maintain ecosystem balance.
Forests are home to an estimated 200 million Indigenous people across Latin America, Asia and Africa. The generational knowledge, cultural practices, and spiritual reverence that Indigenous forest communities hold is key to protecting our world’s forests and preventing the worst catastrophes of the climate crisis. The research is clear: Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) are the most effective stewards of our world's biodiversity and they must be at the center of our global effort to protect biodiversity. Centuries of colonialism, violence, and exploitation, perpetrated by countries in the Global North have led to a global power imbalance that must be rectified to solve the climate crisis.
Wildlife Works’ model drives financing and decision-making power directly to local communities, who hold the solutions to ecosystem conservation for their and the global community’s climate adaptation.
Creating culturally relevant jobs and strengthening social services creates an economic environment for both people, and the ecosystems they live in, to prosper in balance with one another.
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES ARE THE MOST EFFECTIVE GUARDIANS OF THE PLANET’S FORESTS
PRESERVING INDIGENOUS FOREST CULTURES AND WAY OF LIFE
"Human diversity is just as critical to society as biodiversity is to an ecosystem; without it there can be no healthy functioning”
-Sherri Mitchell/ Weh'na Ha'mu Kwasset, Native American lawyer
Restoring and preserving the diversity of Indigenous forest cultures is critical to healing humanity’s relationship with the planet. Wildlife Works’ strategy of driving self-governed finance directly to Indigenous Peoples and local communities allows forest communities to develop their own bioeconomies that align with their specific place-based knowledge and values.
Through our work with local communities, we recognize that Indigenous ways of life provide models of reciprocal care. We must treat Nature with the respect She deserves and as a subject to learn from, rather than an object to tame.
“[Western] science asks us to learn about organisms, traditional knowledge asks us to learn from them.”
-Robin Wall Kimmerer, professor and member of the Potawatami nation.
By living intimately with nature, Indigenous cultures have gained a deep knowledge of her processes. With each generation, traditional knowledge has been accumulated layer by layer like the geological strata of the Earth. As Sherri Mitchell, a Native American lawyer has said, "Long before western science confirmed that human beings share genes with all living organisms, Indigenous cultures had stories emphasizing kinship and sense of responsibility towards the natural world." Research from western science now confirms what Indigenous Peoples and local communities have always known: that they are the most effective stewards of our world's biodiversity, and that they must be at the center of our global effort to protect biodiversity.
Our conservation work is successful because we are committed to integrating local knowledge and the community’s own development aspirations.
"With everything we do, we are sharing knowledge and experience.”
-Deborah Sanchez, coordinator of Forest, Climate and Biodiversity of AMPB, executive committee representative of Peoples Forests Partnership
Mike Korchinsky founded Wildlife Works in 1997 on the idea that if we want wildlife in our world, it has to work for local communities who share their environment and resources.
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