Many indigenous peoples and local communities today face similar challenges: their traditional ways of life have come under immense pressure and the continuity of their ancestral practices and knowledge systems are being undermined. Furthermore, the destruction of their territories not only undercuts their economies and impoverishes their livelihoods, but also deprives them of significant places of worship and learning.
Acculturation through media and the education system, as well as the exodus of indigenous youth to the cities, further disrupt the transmission of time-honored values, knowledge and skills, including those needed for the protection of their territories’ biodiversity.
Just as the continuity of these societies depends on the integrity of the lands they occupy, the reverse is also true: the conservation and sustainable use of these areas can best be secured through the cultural vitality of the peoples that inhabit them and know them best.
Yet to reverse the erosion of their cultures and to adapt to rapid change while retaining their distinct identities and traditional values is a daunting challenge for these communities.