News and Notes

Amazon indigenous groups want to create a nature sanctuary the size of Mexico

“Leadership is about building trust.”
– Tom Lalampaa, Northern Rangelands Trust, Kenya

Tom Lalampaa, a Samburu from the West Gate Community Conservancy, part of the Northern Rangeland Trust in Kenya, has been a local conservation leader for many years, designing, developing and expanding conservation efforts in his region. The successes he and his group have achieved has a great deal to do with the fact that this area is his home, and the trust he has built through his understanding of local needs and culture. At Half-Earth Day in October, Tom and conservation colleagues from around the world gathered to share their experiences, successes, and lessons-learned with capacity crowds who gathered to hear them.

Indigenous and local community groups are having an increasing level of success as conservationists, particularly when led and implemented by members of the community. Their efforts are providing examples and making an enormous impact on the global conservation effort. A recent article announcing indigenous groups’ intentions to create a huge nature sanctuary in the Amazon is a high-profile example of this expanding role.

“Indigenous people in Latin America want to create the world’s largest protected area to help fight climate change and protect biodiversity,” states the article on the World Economic Forum website. “The national park-like area would stretch from the bottom of the Andes, through the Amazon to the Atlantic and would cover 2 million square kilometres – roughly the same land mass as Mexico.”

“We have come from the forest and we worry about what is happening,” said Tuntiak Katan, Vice President of Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA). “This space is the world’s last great sanctuary for biodiversity. It is there because we are there. Other places have been destroyed.”

As an integral tool for efforts like the living examples in Kenya and the Amazon, and all over the world, the Half-Earth Project is mapping species distribution to an unprecedented 1km resolution. This unprecedented map is being used to identify conservation priorities, and provide critical information to all parties involved in shaping locally-appropriate solutions with the greatest chance for success.