World’s largest Conservation Congress takes place in Spain

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The Tenth Conservation Congress took place in Salamanca, Spain, concurrent with the city’s celebration of the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s voyages to the Americas. While ironic, this actually felt fated and hopeful, as did the entire WILD10, the world’s largest Conservation Congress.

I can only concur with the following issued statements from WILD10:

“Wild nature is not a luxury, but essential to health and prosperity. Protecting and enhancing wilderness preserves beauty, culture and identity, as well as ecosystem services. In addition to providing prosperity and livelihoods, wilderness is also essential for our spiritual wellbeing.

“Wild nature is still under pressure, but there are developments that allow for more wilderness in the future: Urbanization and changes in land-use practices, a growing recognition of the value of wilderness, the interdependence of nature and culture, and a growing movement for a wilder world, all help create a more stable and healthy planet and society.

Past experiences and new opportunities [have been] outlined to show how the business sector can act as a powerful vehicle for conserving – or even enhancing – wild values at the same time as creating income and new jobs.

Some exciting, groundbreaking initiatives from Africa, Australia and other continents [have been] presented to show how the delegation of management responsibility of wildlife management to local communities has generated strong comebacks of many species as well as contributed to investments in culture, social infrastructure, income and jobs. In regions like North America and Europe, private landowners have already played the same role.

The Congress brought to light many features of the “wilderness” concept, emphasizing that wild nature can indeed embed peoples and cultures, and sustain livelihoods. It also stressed that wild nature is not a luxury to be enjoyed by a few but an essential patrimony to sustain the health and prosperity of everyone. Wilderness… sustains the climate of the planet and provides fresh water, clean air, pasture, forest products, fisheries, wild foods and medicinal plants. Wilderness is also the embodiment of beauty, culture, identity and spiritual experience for millions of people.

WILD10, ICLS (Indigenous & Community Lands and Seas) is advancing a vision for the future of conservation—for the protection of all life—inclusive of and rooted in best practices of First Stewards, local communities, and mainstream conservation.

Indigenous peoples are currently the stewards of at least the same amount of wild nature as all regional and national governments and conservation organizations combined. Although indigenous peoples total just 5% of the world’s population, it is estimated that traditional land claims account for some 24%, or 36 million square kilometers, of the Earth’s surface. They inhabit more than 85% of the world’s protected areas (PAs), including many marine PAs. These territories span most of the last remaining biodiversity-rich wilderness areas and most of the major conservation priorities for this century. Examples [have been] given on how Indigenous people and the conservation community work together to protect culture and wild areas, and to identify new socio-economic development opportunities. At WILD10, mainstream conservation and over 50 Indigenous and community leaders representing 39 distinct indigenous nations and communities from 23 countries, [have participated] in this process.

The congress organizers issued a final declaration that stresses the contributions of Indigenous Peoples and local communities and must be acknowledged as serious stakeholders and contributors to global conservation efforts, and making reference to the importance of asserting and adopting all international instruments that protect and recognize Indigenous Peoples and Local Community rights, such as the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Convention on Biodiversity Article 10(c) Sustainable use and Article 8(j) Protection and Recognition of Traditional Knowledge.”

With our planet’s resources and especially its wild places experiencing ever-increasing demands, WILD10’s message is a beacon of hope for all of natural creation.


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