Saving biodiversity with a note of harmony

In mid-November, the Democratic Republic of Congo took a step toward saving the world’s second largest tropical forest – and the world’s largest carbon sink. The country approved a law recognizing the Pygmies as a distinct people with greater control over their traditional lands in the Congo Basin forests. While the law grants rights for this Indigenous people, it also sets a model for saving the planet.

The Pygmies, whose population may be as high as 1.2 million, learned long ago how to protect one of the world’s most biodiverse forests. Their lifestyle, culture, and spiritual identity are intrinsically linked to living in harmony with plants and animals, according to Marine Gauthier, an expert on rights-based habitat governance. One of their ancient customs, for example, forbids Pygmies from entering “hidden places where animals come to heal.”

The law is yet another example of progress in many countries leading up to the largest global conference on preserving biological diversity. The conference, which starts Dec. 7 in Montreal, will be the 15th such gathering focused on implementing a 1993 treaty aimed at protecting wildlife and plants. The previous meeting was 12 years ago.

Previous ArticleNext Article