Back to Our Roots

How Land Degradation Particularly Affects Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities

August 9, 2022
Photo: UNDP

Every year, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is celecrated on 9 August,  offering us the time and space to recognize and commemorate the vital contribution of indigenous peoples and local communities in every aspect of life. Nowhere is this more pertinent than in the protection and restoration of our natural world. Yet, even as vast swathes of the Earth are being devastated by the climate crisis and we are losing species and lands rapidly, the connection between these phenomena and indigenous and local cultures is still overlooked.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) noted in its 2019 Global Assessment Report that land degradation negatively affects the cultural identity of some communities, particularly indigenous peoples and local communities, and erodes their traditional knowledge and management systems. This ancestral knowledge can aid in avoiding and reversing land degradation in many regions. For example, seasonal knowledge of the Nauiyu Nambiyu community in Daly River, Northern Territory, Australia, can assist to prevent degradation and restore landscapes and is representative of indigenous peoples and local communities worldwide. Land management practices based on indigenous and local knowledge and community-based natural resource management systems have been effective in avoiding and reversing land degradation in many regions.

Led by the Indigenous and Local Knowledge Support Unit under the Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems programme at UNESCO, BES-Net has developed two posters based on messages from the IPBES Summary for Policymakers of the assessment report on land degradation and restoration and the Summary for Policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

The first poster highlights how land degradation impacts indigenous peoples and local communities.


Photo: BES-Net

The second poster highlights how indigenous peoples and local communities contribute to land restoration.

Photo: BES-Net