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Skoll Foundation puts $1M toward indigenous groups, conservation in the Amazon

Skoll Foundation puts $1M toward indigenous groups, conservation in the Amazon

Skoll Foundation puts $1M toward indigenous groups, conservation in the Amazon
March 11, 2008

The Skoll Foundation has awarded the Amazon Conservation Team, an innovative organization the promotes biocultural conservation among indigenous groups in the Amazon, $1,015,000 to map, manage, and protect 100 million acres of rainforest. The award is one of 11 Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship presented by the Skoll Foundation in 2008.

“The Amazon Conservation Team is a tremendous addition to the community of Skoll social entrepreneurs who have demonstrated, through their inspiration and creativity, courage and fortitude, that solutions do exist for some of the world’s most intractable problems,” said Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation. “Like all the organizations in our portfolio, ACT is successfully tackling complex social issues with a sustainable, scalable solution. We believe their work has the potential for transformational benefit to indigenous cultures and forests of the Amazon and we’re honored to support their continued commitment to systemic change at the grassroots level.”

GPS data gathering on a mapping expedition in the Amazon. Image courtesy of ACT.

The Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) works with indigenous groups across the Amazon to conserve biodiversity, traditional culture, and health. ACT has provided 28 tribes with the tools necessary to map, manage, and protect their territories—totaling more than 40 million acres of rainforest. ACT has also launched enduring Shamans and Apprentices programs that preserve, strengthen, and promote indigenous knowledge of the Amazon’s medicinal plants, and provide training to tribal leaders in sustainable agriculture and economic development.

“Indigenous peoples know, manage and protect the rainforest far better than we do,” said Dr. Plotkin, President of the Amazon Conservation Team. “If you want to protect the rainforest, why not enlist the assistance of the people who actually live there? This is the only way that equilibrium change can be brought about in terms of protecting the greatest expression of life on earth.”

“The only way to truly bring equilibrium change in efforts to preserve the rainforests of the Amazon—including both their rich biodiversity and indigenous culture – is if the voice of the indigenous people who inhabit the remaining forests is heard and their legal rights respected and enforced,” added Liliana Madrigal, co-founder of ACT.

The award will be presented by Skoll Foundation Chairman Jeff Skoll, Skoll Foundation President and CEO, Sally Osberg and special guest former President Jimmy Carter, at a special ceremony on March 27 at the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University.


Amazon Conservation Team wins “Innovation in Conservation Award” for path-breaking work with Amazon tribes December 11, 2007
The Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) was today awarded’s inaugural “Innovation in Conservation Award” for its path-breaking efforts to enable indigenous Amazonians to maintain ties to their history and cultural traditions while protecting their rainforest home from illegal loggers and miners.

Amazon Indians use Google Earth, GPS to protect forest home
(11/14/2006) Deep in the most remote jungles of South America, Amazon Indians are using Google Earth, Global Positioning System (GPS) mapping, and other technologies to protect their fast-dwindling home. Tribes in Suriname, Brazil, and Colombia are combining their traditional knowledge of the rainforest with Western technology to conserve forests and maintain ties to their history and cultural traditions, which include profound knowledge of the forest ecosystem and medicinal plants. Helping them is the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT), a nonprofit organization working with indigenous people to conserve biodiversity, health, and culture in South American rainforests.

Indians are key to rainforest conservation efforts says renowned ethnobotanist
(10/31/2006) Tropical rainforests house hundreds of thousands of species of plants, many of which hold promise for their compounds which can be used to ward off pests and fight human disease. No one understands the secrets of these plants better than indigenous shamans -medicine men and women – who have developed boundless knowledge of this library of flora for curing everything from foot rot to diabetes. But like the forests themselves, the knowledge of these botanical wizards is fast-disappearing due to deforestation and profound cultural transformation among younger generations. The combined loss of this knowledge and these forests irreplaceably impoverishes the world of cultural and biological diversity. Dr. Mark Plotkin, President of the non-profit Amazon Conservation Team, is working to stop this fate by partnering with indigenous people to conserve biodiversity, health, and culture in South American rainforests. Plotkin, a renowned ethnobotanist and accomplished author (Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice, Medicine Quest) who was named one of Time Magazine’s environmental “Hero for the Planet,” has spent parts of the past 25 years living and working with shamans in Latin America. Through his experiences, Plotkin has concluded that conservation and the well-being of indigenous people are intrinsically linked — in forests inhabited by indigenous populations, you can’t have one without the other. Plotkin believes that existing conservation initiatives would be better-served by having more integration between indigenous populations and other forest preservation efforts.

Amazon rainforest children to get medicinal plant training from shamans
(11/21/2007) The Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) — a group using innovative approaches to preserving culture and improving health among Amazonian rainforest tribes — has been awarded a $100,000 grant from Nature’s Path, an organic cereal manufacturer. The funds will allow ACT to address one of the most pressing social concerns for Amazon forest dwellers by expanding its educational and cultural “Shamans and Apprentice” program for indigenous children in the region.

Google helps protect Amazon rainforest
(6/10/2007) Google is working with a indigenous tribe deep in the Amazon rainforest to protect their lands from illegal encroachment, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. For the first time, Google has confirmed details of the project. Working in conjuction with the Amazon Conservation Team, Google Earth’s technology is being used to monitor illegal mining and logging that threaten the lands of the Surui tribe in Brazil. Google is working with satellite providers to significantly improve image resolution in some of the most remote parts of the Amazon basin.

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