Connections between indigenous peoples, local communities and the conservation of nature
Over a quarter of the world’s land surface is controlled by indigenous peoples, covering at least 38 million km2 across 87 countries, and intersecting with many ecologically intact landscapes (Garnett et al. 2018). The rights of indigenous peoples and local communities to manage lands, waters and resources are therefore intrinsically linked to the conservation of biodiversity.
Collectively, territories and areas that are conserved by indigenous peoples and local communities are called ICCAs; a term which covers an array of cultures, actions and values, but which brings together a global community with a shared vision to secure their natural heritage.
ICCAs have three main characteristics (Sajeva et al. 2019):
How many ICCAs are there in the world?
No one knows how many ICCAs there are globally, so we cannot yet fully articulate the significant role played by indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) in conserving nature. The ICCA Registry and the Protected Planet Initiative are helping to address this problem by supporting communities to document their ICCAs.
There are currently over 1,500 protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) reported to Protected Planet under the governance of indigenous peoples and local communities. This is just 1% of the total number of sites recorded in the Protected Planet databases. These sites can be explored through the WDPA and WD-OECM search pages by filtering by governance type.
What are we doing to help?
UNEP-WCMC is working with indigenous peoples, local communities and other partners to support communities to submit their ICCA data. In addition to the WDPA and WD-OECM, we manage a dedicated database where communities themselves are the data-providers: the ICCA Registry. There are over 200 ICCAs in the ICCA Registry database, from across the world, and over 30 online case studies.
With appropriate recognition and support, these communities (for whom security of rights to lands, territories and resources is essential for their survival) can ensure these critically important areas are managed sustainably, enabling the communities to prosper.
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