With a million species at risk of extinction, dozens of countries are insisting on protecting at least 30 percent of the planet’s land and water by 2030. Their goal is to forge a global agreement in talks to be held in China later this year, designed to maintain natural areas such as old-growth forests and wetlands that nurture biodiversity, carbon and filters Storage of water.
But many people who have been successfully protecting nature for generations will not decide on the deal: indigenous communities and others who have made room for animals, plants and their habitats, not by fencing away from nature, but by this By making a short life. The key to their success, research suggests, is not much.
In the Brazilian Amazon, indigenous people put their carcasses on the line so that people could protect the native land threatened by loggers and ranchers. In Canada, a First Nations group built a large park to block mining. In Papua New Guinea, fishing communities have established no-fishing zones. And in Guatemala, people living in a vast nature reserve are harvesting high-value wood in small quantities. In fact, some of those logs may end up as new bike lanes on the Brooklyn Bridge.
“If you’re going to save only insects and animals and not indigenous people, there’s a big contradiction,” said Jose Gregorio Diaz Mirabal, an umbrella group that led the coordinator of indigenous organizations in the Amazon River Basin is. “We are an ecosystem.”
Nature is healthier on more than quarter of the land according to the indigenous people Many scientific studies. Indigenous managed lands in Brazil, Canada and Australia have greater or greater biodiversity than lands earmarked for conservation by federal or other resources, Researchers have found.
This is in contrast to the history of conservation, which is a disturbing record for getting people off their land. Therefore, it is with a mixture of hope and concern that many indigenous leaders see this latest global goal, known as 30×30, led by Britain, Costa Rica and France. Some want a higher goal – More than 50 percentAccording to Mr. According to the organization of Díaz Mirabal – whereas Others fear that they may be pushed out once again In the name of conservation.
Protecting the land, protecting important forests
In the Brazilian Amazon, Avapu Uru U Vau Vau lives his life to protect the wealth of his ancestral land: jaguars, endangered brown woolly monkeys and natural springs from which 17 important rivers flow. His people, the indigenous Uru U Vau Vau, have legal rights to the land, but must constantly defend it from armed intruders.
Beyond their 7,000-square-mile area, cattle ranchers and soy planters have reared much of the forest. Their land is between the last protected forests and savannas left in the Brazilian state of Rondônia. Illegal loggers often encroach.
So Mr. Uru U Vou Vou, who uses his community name as his surname, patrols the forest with poison arrows. Others in his community monitor with drones, GPS devices and video cameras. He prepares his daughter and son, ages 11 and 13, to defend it in the years to come.
“Nobody knows what’s going to happen to us, and I’m not going to live forever,” said Mr. Uru u vou vou. “We have to leave it to our children to get things.”
Risks are high. Mr. Uru U Vou Vou’s cousin, Ari Uru U Vou Vou, was Murdered last April, Is part of a chilling pattern among land guards across the Amazon. In 2019, the most recent year for which data is available, at least 46 were murdered Throughout Latin America. Many were indigenous.
The community’s efforts have benefitted 7.75 billion people in the world: the Amazon, which accounts for half of the world’s remaining tropical rainforest, helps regulate the Earth’s climate and nurture priceless genetic diversity. research shows Indigenous property rights are important to reduce illegal deforestation in the Amazon.
A fall of nature
Nature is attacking Because humans harvest the land for growing food, while digging wood and minerals for minerals. Making matters worse, the planets are getting warmer due to the combustion of fossil fuels Making it harder For animals and plants to survive.
By mistake, some scholars say, these are the same historical forces that have extracted natural resources at the expense of indigenous people for hundreds of years. “What we are seeing now with the decline of biodiversity and climate change is the final stage of the effects of colonialism,” said anthropologist Paige West of Columbia University.
There is now widespread recognition that reversing the loss of biodiversity is not only necessary for food security and a stable climate, it is also important to reduce the risk of new diseases from wild animals such as coronoviruses.
Enter 30×30. The goal of protecting at least 30 percent of the Earth’s land and water, which was pushed for a long time ConservationistsIs taken by Alliance of countries. This will be part of the diplomatic talks in Kunming, China under the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity. The United States is the only country other than the Vatican not to attend the convention, although President Biden ordered a plan to protect 30 percent of American water and land.
Indigenous communities are not recognized as parties to international agreements. They can come for talks as observers, but cannot vote on the outcome. In practice, however, success is impossible without his support.
They already protect most of the world’s land and water, as David Cooper, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Agency for Biodiversity, pointed out. “People live in these places,” he said. “They need to be engaged and respect their rights.”
A coalition of indigenous groups and local communities has called for Agreement to protect at least half the planet. Scientific research returns them, finding that one-third of the planet is to be saved Just not enough To store enough planet-warming carbon dioxide to preserve biodiversity and slow global warming.
Creating a new type of park
A half-century ago, where boreal forests meet the tundra in the northwestern region of Canada, ëutsël K’é ‘Dene, one of the region’s indigenous groups, established a national park in and around its homeland. Opposed Canada’s efforts for.
“At the time, Canada’s national parks policies were very negative for the ways of life of indigenous people,” said former Aboriginal chief Steven Nita. “They used to make the national park – Fort Park, I call it – and they drove people out.”
But in the 1990s ëutsël K’é ‘Dene faced a new threat: diamonds were found nearby. They feared that their lands would be occupied by mining companies. He therefore went to the Government of Canada to revisit the idea of a national park – one that ensured his rights to manage land, hunting and fish.
“This is what we have used, to protect the heart of our homeland from industrial activities,” said Mr. Nitah, who served as his people’s chief negotiator with the Canadian government.
Park opened In 2019. Its name, Thaidin Nene, means “Land of the Ancients.”
Cooperation between conservationists, indigenous nations and governments is important to protect biodiversity, according to research.
Without local support, creating a protected area may be useless. They often fail to preserve animals and plants, the so-called “Paper park“
Make a living from nature
Researchers have found that biodiversity conservation often works best when local communities are at stake.
For example, in the islands of Papua New Guinea, where fish is a staple, stock had declined in recent decades. The fishermen spent more time off the coast and at sea, but came back with shorter catches. So they partnered with Local And International Nonprofit groups try something new. They changed their net to avoid small fishes. They reduced their use of venom which brings the fish to the surface. Most critically, they completely stopped some water for fishing.
One of the clans that used these measures, Meksen Darius, said that people were open to the idea because they hoped it would improve their livelihoods.
Retired lawyer Mr. Darius said, “By volume, species of fish and other marine life, they have increased manifold.”
For Ileana Montero, an environmental scientist at the International Forestry Research Center in Lima, Peru, what matters is that people who live in areas with high biodiversity have the right to manage those areas. He pointed to the example of the Mayan Biosphere Reserve, an area of two million hectares in Guatemala, where local communities have managed the forest for 30 years.
Under temporary contracts with the national government, they began harvesting limited quantities of timber and alspice, selling ornamental palms and running tourism agencies. Invested to protect them. “Forest becomes a source of livelihood,” Dr. Montero said. “They were able to reap tangible benefits.”
535 species of jaguars, spider monkeys and butterflies thrive there. So is the white-lipped pecker, a shy pig that quickly disappears when the pressure of hunting is high. According to the researchers community-managed forests have fewer wildfires, and almost zero rates of deforestation.
Irwin Maas is among the hundreds of Guatemalans who live there. He and his neighbors run a community-owned business in Uxactuan Village. Mahogany is plentiful, but they can only take so much. Often, it is one or two trees per hectare per year, Mr. Maas said. Seed-producing trees are left alone.
“Our goal is to sustain ourselves with a small amount and always take care of the forest,” he said.
Nick wartz Contributed to reporting.