Amazon Conservation Team
Amazon Conservation Team
The mission of the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) is to work in partnership with indigenous people in conserving biodiversity, health, and culture in tropical America.
The term biodiversity corresponds to a concept of nature where all living things and beings have intrinsic worth and importance. One of the Amazon Conservation Team's highest priorities is to safeguard the biological diversity of the Amazon and other ecosystems of tropical and sub-tropical America.
In our project areas, we recognize the inextricable link between the survival of the forest and the survival of the local forest culture what we term "biocultural" diversity. ACT's experience has taught us that strong and thriving indigenous cultures, with national recognition of their claim to these lands, is the key to biodiversity conservation in many areas where we work. The goal of many of our projects is to protect biological diversity by strengthening local culture and building local conservation capacity.
In addition, ACT is supporting the creation of nature reserves in direct cooperation with local partners to ensure the protection of critical habitat areas.
Health corresponds to a caretaker relationship between human society and the natural world that maximizes human well-being, social justice, and reverence for living systems. The intrinsic link between ecosystem health and human health from the perspective of many indigenous peoples, the importance of physical health to overall well-being, and the central role that health and healing play in indigenous cultures account for the prominence of the health component in ACT projects.
The erosion of traditional medicine and culture coupled with an adoption of a sedentary lifestyle has had a devastating effect on the self-sufficiency and health status of indigenous peoples. The impact of the loss of traditional systems of health is almost always greatly compounded by a limited or total lack of access to primary and preventive healthcare.
ACT has further developed and consolidated our original flagship project, the Shamans and Apprentices Program, to prevent the disappearance of traditional knowledge by encouraging young apprentices to learn from elder shamans and to preserve the knowledge of medicines from the local forest.
It must again be noted that the operation of the traditional clinics in all of our country programs is under the control of elder shamans and other traditional healers in coordination with western professionals. The traditional health clinic and the knowledge shared with our teams belong solely to the local people (note that ACT does not engage in bioprospecting).
Culture corresponds to indigenous production practices, social relations, and the interpretation of the events of daily life specific to each tribe.
Much of the best-protected rainforest in South America is on Indian lands. Indigenous peoples living a relatively traditional lifestyle often maintain both a physical and a spiritual tie to the land. Everything from the quality of drinking water to the availability of foodstuffs to the accessibility of medicinal plants is dependent on careful stewardship of local resources.
And not only do indigenous communities control enormous amounts of territory, they also have an unparalleled knowledge of these resources and how best to manage them. Much of the history of the international conservation movement has focused on protecting land from people. But, in the case of some indigenous groups, these local peoples may present an extraordinary conservation opportunity. They want to protect the lands, but they need some outside assistance to be able to do so. Helping them gain legal title to the land, helping them keep destructive outside forces at bay, and helping them negotiate with the outside world on their own terms all are necessary if tropical American indigenous cultures and forests are to survive and thrive.
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