- Nearly 80% of the world’s biodiversity is stewarded by Indigenous peoples and local communities, each practicing their own traditional ecological knowledge, or TEK.
- With the world facing twin biodiversity and climate crises, experts emphasize the need to recognize the land rights and sovereignty of Indigenous people from a human rights perspective to protect the planet’s wildlife and ecosystems.
- On this episode of the podcast, National Geographic photographer Kiliii Yuyan discusses his latest project that shares stories of Indigenous stewardship, “The Guardians of Life: Indigenous Stewards of Living Earth.”
Photographer Kiliii Yuyan joins the podcast to talk about the value of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in protecting the world’s biodiversity. Teaming up with previous guest Gleb Raygorodetsky and with support from the National Geographic Society and the Amazon Climate Pledge, their media project and campaign seeks to highlight five different Indigenous communities’ stewardship of life across the world.
Yuyan discusses his insights into the TEK of Indigenous communities he’s visited while working on this project, and what stories he still plans on covering for the campaign. He also shares with us his own reflections as a person with Indigenous ancestry doing this work, and what he wishes more journalists would do when telling the stories of Indigenous peoples and the knowledge they offer.
Indigenous peoples manage and protect 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity. However, they do not have rights to nearly half of the land they manage. Research shows that where Indigenous land rights are recognized in tropical areas, deforestation is reduced. With several mounting environmental crises, NGO leaders and experts are calling for the protection of Indigenous lands, and the recognition of their rights.
Some Indigenous leaders and researchers also espouse the benefits of combining TEK with Western science in what is called “two-eyed seeing” and the potential this holds for conservation.
While Indigenous leaders celebrated the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) last December — one target of which seeks to protect 30% of the planet by 2030 — advocates argue that this figure has already been achieved when accounting for the biodiversity already contained in protected areas and Indigenous territories, and suggest a more ambitious target would be to aim for 50%.
- Indigenous lands hold the world’s healthiest forests – but only when their rights are protected
- Will the world join Indigenous peoples in relationship with nature at COP-15? (commentary)
- Podcast: How marine conservation benefits from combining Indigenous knowledge and Western science
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Mike DiGirolamo is Mongabay’s audience engagement associate. Find him on Twitter @MikeDiGirolamo, Instagram, TikTok and Mastodon.