A new study from Charles Darwin University of Australia shows a major overlap between ecologically preserved areas of the globe and lands under indigenous stewardship.
The study, titled “A spatial overview of the global importance of Indigenous lands for conservation” had the goal of producing a global map of all lands owned or managed by indigenous peoples. The resulting map revealed that indigenous peoples have “ownership” or stewardship over nearly a quarter of the world’s land surface, and this land overlaps with roughly 40% of all the ecologically protected areas on the planet.
In their own words: “We found that about two thirds of Indigenous lands are essentially natural. That is more than double the proportion for other lands.”
This study shows that recognizing the rights of indigenous people to their traditional lands is not only an ethical obligation, but also essential for global ecological conservation. Indigenous communities are far more skilled at preserving the environment they live in and reducing harm to biodiversity than non-indigenous communities.
All over the world, treaties with indigenous communities are still broken and indigenous lands are shrunken and stolen for use in developmental activities such as logging, agro-monoculture, cattle raising and so forth. These are crimes that ultimately hurt everyone on Earth and we should all fight for the preservation of indigenous culture and indigenous control over their natural land.