THe IMPORTANCE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
According to the United Nations, 370 to 500million people belong to approximately 5,000 different indigenous groups in the world. They represent a large part of the cultural diversity. They usually have a spiritual connection to nature and all life on our earth. Their extensive knowledge of nature and the plant world supports, for example, the production of medicine and is therefore particularly valuable for all people in the world.
Indigenous peoples live on or manage only about 25% of the earth's surface, but 80% of the world's biodiversity is found in their largely untouched habitats. Why is this so? Because they do not exploit nature, but sustainably manage the land on which they live. Here is an example:
The indigenous peoples in the Amazon are the guardians of the forest. Their way of cultivating crops, for example, helps to increase natural diversity. Scientific results show that more plants as well as more plant species grow in the vicinity of their settlements than in the uninhabited parts. The Aluku of French Guyana, for example, distinguish 90 varieties of cassava and their neighbours, the Wayana, cultivate 28 species and 129 varieties. This diversity - instead of monoculture - helps to protect our life.
So far, only about 35% of indigenous peoples' habitats are protected. However, indigenous peoples can play a key role in achieving the Convention on Biological Diversity's (CBD) goal of protecting more of the Earth's surface (see also "Global Biodiversity Framework" under "Further Knowledge" at the bottom).
THREATENED BY MODERNITY
In the globalised world, the influence of civilisation unfortunately also reaches into the last corner of the earth, so that all indigenous peoples now suffer from similar problems.
Primarily due to economic interests, such as deforestation for agriculture or the extraction of raw materials, they are driven out of their habitats. They are exposed to discrimination, violence, and other human rights violations.
Due to their remoteness and consequently poorer access to medical care and basic foodstuffs, indigenous people are also strongly affected by the consequences of the pandemic. However, by preserving natural habitats and protecting territories, they can play an important role in preventing future pandemics.
In order to achieve the goals of biodiversity and climate protection, indigenous peoples must be respected, their habitats protected, and their wisdom preserved. Their values and beliefs must not be lost to secure life on our planet for future generations.