Central America, indigenous peoples are essential for conservation

A new map of the IUCN shows that indigenous peoples occupy 40 per cent of Central America’s protected areas and play an essential role in protecting biodiversity.

Indigenous peoples usually depend on natural resources to survive. Society, in turn, depends on its role in safeguarding those resources for our wellbeing.


Popolazione indigena amazzonica
39% of Central American protected areas are inhabited by indigenous peoples


The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published a map that highlights how governments and environmental organisations would benefit from an increased cooperation with Central America’s indigenous peoples.

The guardians of the forests

The map shows that nearly 40 per cent of Central America’s protected areas are home to indigenous peoples, the guardians of the world’s most fragile ecosystems. The lands inhabited by these populations account for 282,000 square kilometres, 5 times the size of Costa Rica.


Map Iucn Central american
The map highlights that indigenous communities are guardians of the most fragile ecosystems of Central America.

Protecting indigenous people to save biodiversity

The study carried out by the IUCN demonstrates that supporting indigenous people rights is an effective way of safeguarding biodiversity. Respecting their rights implies reducing deforestation and, as a result, CO2 emissions.


Indigenous communities and the climate

According to an assessment of the Woods Hole Research Center, presented at COP21, the forests of the Amazon, the Democratic Republic of Cong0, Mesoamerica, and Indonesia store more than 20 per cent of the CO2 retained by the world’s forests. “You cannot talk about conservation without speaking of Indigenous Peoples and their role as the guardians of our most delicate lands and waters,” said Grethel Aguilar, Regional Director of the IUCN Office for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.


mexican indigenous people
The map is an essential instrument to promote the collaboration between indigenous peoples and the Central American governmnets to protect forests and coastal regions

The importance of the map

The map, realised thanks to satellite images and to the participation of indigenous people, also provides data on the forest coverage of protected areas and neighbouring regions, and is an essential resource for indigenous peoples. “The map is an instrument that allows Indigenous Peoples to advance the recognition, respect and promotion of their rights”, said Ramiro Batzin, Sotz’il Association representative and member of the Central American Indigenous Council (CICA).

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