Indigenous knowledge for conservation governance innovations

Promoting local innovations workshop in the Peruvian Amazon
Promoting local innovations workshop in the Peruvian Amazon. Photo: Sarah-Lan Mathez-Stiefel

Conservation approaches have been moving away from the idea of “fortress protection” and its Western-inspired understanding of protecting biodiversity. There is increasing recognition that protected area management must draw on traditional knowledge and customary land rights and that consequently, local stakeholders – including Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLC) – should have a greater say in conservation governance. This trend was clearly confirmed at the UN Biodiversity Conference, COP15, held in December 2022 in Montreal.

Still, much remains to be done. There are interesting and promising examples of IPLC-led conservation schemes or co-management between indigenous groups and the state, for example in the Peruvian Amazon. But research on these examples is still sparse, making it all the more important to investigate what potential they have, what hurdles they face, and how best to support them, so that similar schemes can be repeated elsewhere.

Research aims

The overall aim of this interdisciplinary project is to examine the potential of IPLC-led governance schemes to contribute towards more just conservation. Jointly implemented by CDE and the Wyss Academy for Nature, it will draw on transdisciplinary case studies from the Peruvian Amazon to identify leverage points that can inform the design of further IPLC-led governance schemes, also in other forest frontier contexts such as in Madagascar and Laos.

Specifically, the project aims to

  1. Explore the role of Indigenous and local knowledge in innovative conservation governance schemes in the Peruvian Amazon, paying close attention to how such knowledge is integrated with external or state knowledge
  2. Evaluate the outcomes of Indigenous-led governance schemes on the well-being of local communities and on forest conservation in the Peruvian Amazon
  3. Identify barriers and opportunities for the successful design and implementation of Indigenous-led conservation governance scheme in diverse forest frontier contexts.
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Duration 2023 –2024

Wyss Academy for Nature

Partners South America Hub, Wyss Academy for Nature

Dr. Sarah-Lan Mathez-Stiefel

Prof. Dr. Julie Zähringer

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