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Indigenous & Community Lands & Seas

The Indigenous & Community Lands & Seas (ICLS) program inspires and advances a vision for 21st century conservation rooted in the best practices, wisdom and experience of Indigenous Peoples (IP), local communities, and institutional and contemporary conservationists. We strive to achieve positive results for wild nature and human communities while preserving cultural and biological diversity.

For us, land includes everything that surrounds us—the sea, the earth, the sky, the air;
everything is included in our understanding of land and wilderness
— Gabriel Hoeffer, Governor, Comcáac Nation

What makes ICLS unique?

Our approach is to work in a way that is collaborative, synergetic, and future-oriented, revolving around a simple bottom line:  for the protection of all life. ICLS values both process and product, while recognizing that how things are done is equally important to what gets accomplished. ICLS collaborates with partners in shared initiatives and interactive processes such as ceremony, dialogue, meetings, knowledge exchanges and policy.

Why is this project needed?

Today, nature’s life-support systems are pushed to the edge despite the best efforts and energy of many.  There is little time left according to many Indigenous elders, and we must acknowledge and empower these voices.

The mainstream conservation movement was founded with little or no regard for Indigenous Peoples, resulting in serious consequences for them and missed opportunities for conservation. The movement is beginning to address this conservation legacy now with the courage to acknowledge that what we have done has not worked as we hoped, and a positive vision for how to go forward will include an Indigenous perspective.

Kayapo woman collecting brazil nuts


  • Inspire and advance a 21st Century conservation vision that places the well-being of all life at the center of decision-making – recognizing, respecting and complementing diverse approaches and perspectives
  • Increase collaboration, synergy and capacity at the intersection of Indigenous Peoples and mainstream conservation for the protection of the Earth, human communities and all life
  • Showcase and promote innovative projects by Indigenous Peoples and/or partnerships between Indigenous Peoples and other conservation agents
  • Cross-pollinate with other social movements to further initiatives for nature and people
  • Support processes of building trust and reconciliation

How to Get Involved

  • Share stories. Spread the word by sharing best practices, successes, and challenges.
  • Invite us to give a presentation, interact with your network, or share experiences.
  • Join the network. Sign up on our website and tell us how you are part of a movement toward 21st Century Conservation, partnering for the protection of all life.
  • Join our team. Volunteer, engage, advise, act. Write a story, send photos, or share articles.
  • Donate.  Time, energy, vision, funds. All welcome. All needed.

Contact: Sharon Shay Sloan, Program Director: shay (at)