Supporting Communities

A group of young Buddhist monks have fun posing for Art in the hills of Bhutan. © Art Wolfe,
A group of young Buddhist monks have fun posing for Art in the hills of Bhutan. It is quite common for a family of the Buddhist religion to send one of their sons to a monastery to become a monk. 
© Art Wolfe, 

Since its inception in 1987, Conservation International has worked to benefit humanity by conserving the Earth’s biodiversity – the species and ecosystems that are our natural heritage. We believe that maintaining healthy ecosystems and the services they provide is the foundation for healthy human societies that thrive on sustainable economic development.

CI works in biodiversity hotspots, high-biodiversity wilderness areas and seascapes in more than 40 countries. These regions of the planet’s richest biodiversity also are home to indigenous and local communities that directly depend on healthy ecosystems for their clean water, food, fuel, clothing, medicine and shelter. When soaring human consumption and impact depletes those resources, everything and everyone suffer. By partnering with these local inhabitants and other stakeholders – from international organizations and national governments to grassroots groups – CI strives to achieve the multiple benefits of empowering indigenous and local communities to conserve essential resources and strengthening the fundamental role of biodiversity conservation in providing sustainable livelihoods.

IN DEPTH: Read stories of CI's community partnerships and successes.

In 2003, CI created the Indigenous and Traditional Peoples Program (ITPP) to continue to strengthen our commitments to indigenous and traditional peoples and support the vital role of their territories in conservation landscapes. Guided by CI’s “Principles for Partnership,” ITPP works directly with CI programs and partners, local leaders, communities, conservationists, indigenous organizations and other critical players to build a common agenda for the conservation of biological and cultural diversity at local, national and international scales. The program’s activities strengthen the collaboration of these groups and expand the abilities of communities to effectively manage their lands and resources while also maintaining their livelihoods and their natural and cultural patrimony.

READ MORE: Growing Opportunity

Overall, CI’s partnerships cover a broad spectrum of actions and achievements. We support efforts by indigenous groups to gain legal designation and management authority over ancestral lands and their resources.  We help communities enhance their capacity to manage those areas to conserve the biodiversity and ecological processes on which they depend. We join international partners in the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund and other mechanisms that support projects promoting biodiversity conservation and human well-being. We partner with communities to support the sustainable and traditional uses of medicinal plants and animals, and provide needed economic resources that help promote conservation efforts on the ground. We enter conservation agreements with national authorities and local resource owners who protect natural ecosystems in exchange for a steady stream of structured benefits. Throughout CI, all of our work emanates from our guiding principles of helping people through conservation.

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