Brazil LAB Scholars Publish Study on the Crucial Role of Indigenous and Local Communities in Biodiversity Conservation

March 25, 2024

Brazil LAB affiliate scholars Carolina Levis, Bernardo Flores, and Carlos Fausto recent published the article "Contributions of human cultures to biodiversity and ecosystem conservation" in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Co-authored with an interdisciplinary team of scientists from Brazil, North America, and Europe, as well as intellectuals from Indigenous communities from southeastern Amazonia, the article calls for for a significant shift in how conservation efforts are conceptualized and implemented.

According to Levis, Flores, and their collaborators, mainstream conservation efforts still focus on nature protection strategies to reverse our current climate crisis, often overlooking the essential roles of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities in protecting biodiversity and ecosystems globally. In the article, they assess the scientific literature to identify relationships between biodiversity and cultural diversity, investigation how these connections may positively affect conservation outcomes in South America.

“Indigenous peoples and local communities are deeply connected with biodiversity, providing essential benefits to societies, including a wealth of edible species,” Carolina Levis explains. The review meticulously analyzes scientific literature, demonstrating the symbiotic relationship between these communities, biodiversity, and ecosystem services. 

The proposed paradigm shift in conservation practices calls for an approach that values both biological and cultural diversities. This includes moving beyond the traditional focus on biodiversity "hotspots" to embrace a broader perspective that recognizes the co-benefits of conserving cultural and biological diversity. The study introduces the concept of "social-ecological hope spots" and presents five case studies where conservation initiatives have successfully integrated local community engagement, cutting-edge science, and technology.

The article is available here. Folha de S. Paulo, Brazil's most important newspaper, covered this groundbreaking research initiative.