Wisdom of the ages

We may think that our high-tech era will deliver all the solutions to global problems including environmental degradation. But have we lost sight of age-old solutions that have been staring us in the face?

For thousands of years indigenous peoples and local communities have been custodians of nature, living in harmony with the land and the oceans that sustain them, based on a deep knowledge of the natural world.

But in our drive for development this knowledge is being lost. Policies relating to land and resources have largely ignored the role of indigenous peoples in conservation and they have little say in how these resources are used.

With a growing recognition of the value of traditional knowledge and community involvement in managing protected areas, can indigenous people become key players in the quest for sustainability?

Respecting Indigenous and Traditional Knowledge and Culture is one of the key themes of the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress.

Guardians of nature

    News and features


    Q’eqchí’-Maya girl helps to fill bags with soil in a large nursery in the Lachuá, Guatemala

    When ancient meets modern

    Indigenous and community conserved areas have emerged as a new phenomenon in conservation circles but their existence is as old as human civilization itself. Around the world Indigenous Peoples are mobilizing to ensure that their ancient practices based on a profound knowledge of the natural world are recognized as a mainstay of global conservation. …  

    15 May 2014 | Article

    The Olgas - Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territories, Australia

    Australia’s Indigenous Protected Areas

    Indigenous Protected Areas are one of Australia’s conservation success stories – protecting culture and country, while providing a pathway to meaningful jobs and positive health, education and social benefits. Today there are more than 55 Indigenous Protected Areas protecting more than 43 million hectares across Australia. …  

    20 May 2014 | Article

    Waterfall in Canaima National Park, Venezuela

    Fire management in Venezuelan national park: Indigenous knowledge joins latest research

    As part of the global revival of traditional knowledge in conservation, indigenous peoples in Venezuela are being called on to share their knowledge of fire management to help conserve an iconic national park and its surrounding area.   …  

    15 May 2014 | Article

    Saro Karez, Pakistan

    Of pearls in the sand – reviving a centuries-old water management system in Pakistan

    Pakistan's Balochistan Province presents a unique situation in terms of both the environment and its socio-political context. Many traditional land use practices exist, including nomadic herding but the region faces a range of challenges including extreme aridity and droughts that are expected to increase with climate change. …  

    10 May 2014 | Article

    Spanish video

    Florina López, Coordinator of the Indigenous Women's Network on Biodiversity talks about the challenges indigenous women face in preserving traditional knowledge and practices for conservation.

    From the blog