Conserving the Amazon via indigenous rights.
13 million hectares protected.
Former Head of Indian Affairs in Colombia, and a long-time activist for indigenous rights and the environment, Martín von Hildebrand founded Gaia Amazonas in 1990 to assist the indigenous peoples of the Colombian Amazon to safeguard and govern their territories sustainably, while conserving the region’s immense cultural and ecological diversity. The organization works at the grassroots level to promote processes for tribal autonomy and environmental governance, whilst shining a light on the value of traditional knowledge systems for contemporary conservation and sustainable development practices.
Over 20 years, Gaia Amazonas has focused on issues such as indigenous governance, territorial management, inter-cultural education, inter-cultural health, trans-boundary co-ordination, and institutional strengthening. Viewing indigenous rights and effective conservation of the Amazon region as intrinsically linked, the organization works to assist groups to reclaim ownership of their homelands by creating spaces for dialogue between indigenous authorities and the state, providing guidance on legal recognition of their rights, advising the government on legislative development, and advocating for indigenous participation in the development of programs that affect these groups directly.
In the areas where Gaia Amazonas is most active, 17 indigenous organizations – representing over 23,000 people – govern more than 13 million hectares of forest.
(Photo © Gaia Amazonas)