Expanding Conservation Areas Through Indigenous Land Tenure
More land, more justice, more biodiversity
The following blog is one of a series of four reporting on WILD’s wins for biodiversity and wilderness in 2023. If you like what you see and want to help create more victories for nature like these, please consider a gift to support WILD’s programs here.
Something momentous happened in the Amazon this year, and if you are a WILD.org donor, surprise! you were a part of it.
After years of dogged persistence, the Yawanawa achieved more sovereignty and security in their home territory. On September 5th, President Lula da Silva formally decreed the demarcation of 187,000 hectares (460,000 acres – an area half the size of Rhode Island) of the Yawanawa and Katukina Territory, granting the Yawanawa people near full sovereignty over this land.
Amy was in the territory when the unexpected announcement occurred: the songs and whoops of triumph ricocheted across the forest long into the night.
This year, WILD has deepened its engagement with the Yawanawa, working at the discretion of the Yawanawa Leadership Council to help them implement their life plan, which includes numerous provisions for the forest upon which they depend for their survival.
Since 2009, when WILD launched the Nature Needs Half movement at the 9th World Wilderness Congress in Mérida, Mexico, we have strongly advocated for the protection of Half of Earth’s lands and seas. This is considered the 1.5 Degree target of biodiversity. Just like the scientific consensus is to keep temperature rise under 1.5 Degrees, scientific consensus also concludes that we need at least half (and sometimes a lot more – 80% – in the case of rainforests) to maintain the life support services upon which our civilization depends.
At WILD, we believe that one of the best ways to achieve this goal is the expansion and restoration of Indigenous lands to traditional stewardship. By working with those leaders within Indigenous society who prioritize conservation and traditional lifeways, we believe that we can achieve Half and restore justice to Indigenous cultures around the world. And we have reason to believe that this is good for the planet. After all, 80% of biodiversity is stewarded by Indigenous Peoples, as is nearly 40% of the remaining wild lands.
WILD was proud to help sponsor a Yawanawa to the capitol of Brazil, Brasilia, earlier this year for just this reason, to advocate for the full demarcation of their lands, because we believe that this is as good for biodiversity as it is for the Yawanawa.
WILD’s team is proud to serve at the discretion of the Yawanawa on their journey to restore their traditional culture and the forest that is their home. Our question for you is, do you want to join us on this adventure?