Across the planet we collaborate with Indigenous Peoples and local communities to achieve a shared vision for a more secure and resilient future, where wildlife remains a visible, thriving, and culturally valued part of the wild places where our partners live and we work.
At WCS, we choose to work in the most isolated, wild, and intact places left on the planet. Some interpret “intact” to mean empty of people. But the Indigenous Peoples and local communities who live there say otherwise. These intact forests, grasslands, and coastal reef systems are the source of their families’ livelihoods and wellbeing and the foundation of their cultural identities.
Their direct and continuing interest in the health of these systems has made Indigenous Peoples and local communities our best partners and most important political constituency for conserving natural resources in the wild landscapes and seascapes where we work. The importance of building effective partnerships with Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs) is highlighted in a 2021 report, to which WCS contributed and was a partner in developing. The report demonstrates how global biodiversity goals are unattainable without the full recognition of IPLC land and resource rights and makes recommendations for actions by policy makers, donors and conservation organizations.
Across the planet, respectful engagement with Indigenous Peoples and local communities is a core feature of our approach to conservation, because we have shared interests in the conservation of the intact places they call home.
Simply said, WCS wants to save wildlife in wild places, and so do the people who live there.