Indigenous Peoples' Lands are critical for safeguarding vertebrate diversity across the tropics

Jocelyne S. Sze, Dylan Z. Childs, L. Roman Carrasco, Álvaro Fernández-Llamazares, Stephen T. Garnett, David P. Edwards

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Indigenous Peoples are long-term custodians of their lands, but only recently are their contributions to conservation starting to be recognized in biodiversity policy and practice. Tropical forest loss and degradation are lower in Indigenous lands than unprotected areas, yet the role of Indigenous Peoples' Lands (IPL) in biodiversity conservation has not been properly assessed from regional to global scales. Using species distribution ranges of 11,872 tropical forest-dependent vertebrates to create area of habitat maps, we identified the overlap of these species ranges with IPL and then compared values inside and outside of IPL for species richness, extinction vulnerability, and range-size rarity. Of assessed vertebrates, at least 76.8% had range overlaps with IPL, on average overlapping ~25% of their ranges; at least 120 species were found only within IPL. Species richness within IPL was highest in South America, while IPL in Southeast Asia had highest extinction vulnerability, and IPL in Dominica and New Caledonia were important for range-size rarity. Most countries in the Americas had higher species richness within IPL than outside, whereas most countries in Asia had lower extinction vulnerability scores inside IPL and more countries in Africa and Asia had slightly higher range-size rarity in IPL. Our findings suggest that IPL provide critical support for tropical forest-dependent vertebrates, highlighting the need for greater inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in conservation target-setting and program implementation, and stronger upholding of Indigenous Peoples' rights in conservation policy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere16981
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number1
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


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