Biodiversity conservation and the sustainable management of natural resources are inextricably linked to people’s rights to secure their livelihoods and live in dignity.
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is committed to ensuring that our conservation activities at the very least do not further disadvantage poor, vulnerable or marginalised natural resource-dependent people. We strive to design and implement conservation initiatives that, wherever possible, help to improve human well-being and social equity, and which contribute to the achievement of the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals.
We are committed to respecting human rights, and we do all in our power to ensure that these rights are protected and realised within our conservation programmes. We also support the improvement of governance systems that can secure those rights.
In most of the places where FFI works, people are an integral part of the landscape and are heavily dependent on nature’s resources for their food, fuel, fibre, water and medicine. Many traditional agricultural, artisanal fishing, forest management and cultural practices have evolved in harmony with nature and are based on a wealth of indigenous and local knowledge. But changing circumstances – including global population growth and consumer demand, climate change, government policies and displacement of people from their customary lands and fishing grounds – have increased pressure on nature and decreased the viability of traditional livelihoods strategies.
Poor, rural communities are commonly blamed for damaging the environment through opening up forest lands to grow crops, ‘over-grazing’ grasslands, or ‘over-fishing’ coastal areas. However, they frequently have few options for making a living and are often struggling to survive in the face of much more destructive external pressures from large-scale commercial agriculture, logging, fishing or other developments.
The challenge for conservation practitioners is how to work in partnership with these communities to achieve effective, long-term nature conservation while at the same time ensuring that local women and men have viable livelihoods that provide a decent standard of living for their families now and in the future.