Many indigenous peoples and local communities today face a common threat: their traditional ways of life have come under immense pressure and the continuity of their ancestral knowledge and cultural practices are being undermined. The destruction of their territories not only undercuts their economies and impoverishes their livelihoods, but it also deprives them of significant places where lessons are taught and stories transmitted.
Acculturation through media and the education system as well as the exodus of youth to the cities further disrupt the transmission of time-honored values, knowledge and techniques, including those related to the protection of their territories’ biodiversity.
To reverse the rapid erosion of their cultures and to adapt to radical change while retaining their distinct identities and traditional values is a daunting challenge for them.
Undoubtedly, just as the continuity of these societies depends on the integrity of the lands they inhabit, the reverse is also true: the conservation and appropriate use of these areas can best be secured through the vitality of the cultural heritage of their occupants.