Our current projects are in Bhutan (where our first Sanctuary was officially opened in 2019), Mongolia (working with the eagle hunter community in the West), Mexico (working with the Mazahua community living in the buffer zone of the Monarch Butterfly Reserve in Michoacan), the Marquesas islands in French Polynesia (creating a community center in Nuku Hiva to celebrate the culture and oceanscape of all six inhabited Marquesan islands), Brazil (working with the Javari of the Amazon) and Ecuador (working with the Chachi community in the Choco region). We are also in early stage discussions regarding projects in Japan, New Guinea , Canada, Costa Rica, Kenya, Peru and beyond.

At the heart of each of our projects is the creation of a community centre. Each is unique as the requirements of each community are different but our project reports on work in each of Bhutan, Mexico, Mongolia and the Marquesas explain our approach.

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1. Bhutan – The Olep community of Rukha

Bhutan’s government and royal family are visionary in taking a long-term, holistic view on all decision making relating to its people and land and, with 70% of the country required by law to remain under forest cover, it is one of only two carbon negative countries in the world. But Bhutan’s culture is under threat from climate change and economic pressures. We work, alongside our project partners at The Tarayana Foundation, with the Olep people, Bhutan’s oldest indigenous community., in the stunning Rukha valley. When we first visited, the Olep told us that they were fearful of the local youth moving away and of their culture fading. Only three people could still fluently speak the Ole language. It has been an honour to work with the community and now to call them our friends. With them, we have created the first dictionary of Ole, which is now being taught to all the local children, and we have built a community centre that doubles as a homestay to welcome visitors. The Bhutanese government now wants to replicate our Rukha project in 21 other areas.

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2. Mexico – The Mazahua of Michoacan

In the state of Michoacan, we are working with the Mazahua community in the town of Crescencio Morales to protect and promote the Mazahua culture and language. Living in the buffer zone around the famous Monarch Butterfly Reserve, the Mazahua are proud and strong but their land and culture are under great threat. Climate change and economic realities are such that many Mazahua leave to find work in cities and abroad and the forces of commerce, modernity and deforestation are having a profound effect on the connection of the community to their roots. The culture is stretched and loses relevance and the Mazahua language is increasingly not known by the young. We are creating a community cultural centre in Crescencio Morales as a gathering place for the community and a focus for workshops, crafts, textiles, music and dance, a classroom for teaching the Mazahua language and a vibrant destination for locals and tourists to learn about Mazahua culture, the Monarchs and local conservation.

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3. Mongolia – The eagle hunters of the West

In the West of Mongolia, we are working with the Kazakh eagle hunters (or falconers, to use the term preferred locally). The community is made up of kind, hardy and family-focused people and to witness the extraordinary relationship between the falconers, their huge golden eagles and their horses is to see something as astonishing and mesmerising as it is unique. Climate change is bringing with it desertifcation of the local grasslands (which are essentially akin to 'upside-down rainforests' when it comes to carbon sequestration), the winters are shortening, water is becoming more scarce and animal behaviours are changing. The very way of life of the eagle hunters is increasingly under pressure. We are working with the community and our local project partner, the Kazakh Falconry Association, to help to promote sustainable eco- and cultural- tourism and other social and economic opportunities and to build a community centre to support the falconer community and their all-important grasslands.

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4. The Marquesas – At the Heart of the Pacific Ocean

The Marquesan islands in French Polynesia are some of the most remote and beautiful in the world. The culture and language of the six inhabited Marquesan islands of Nuku Hiva, Tahuata, Hiva Oa, Fatu Hiva, Ua Pao and Ua Huka were almost crushed by decades of colonisation and the church but their revitalisation, started in the 1970s by a handful of passionate and determined islanders, can now stand - strong and full of joy - as a role model for the world. We are working with the Marquesan community to create a community cultural center on the island of Nuku HIva to represent the culture and language of all six of the islands, each with its unique artwork, dance, song, drumming, cuisine and traditional patutiki (tattooing). The centre will also promote and celebrate the biodiversity and conservation of the islands' majestic forests and surrounding ocean. We are honoured and inspired to work with this community and we are grateful for Kristin and Sven Lindblad for introducing us to this very very special people and place.

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“Indigenous people’s rights need to be protected in the best way possible,…They are the most effective stewards of these key areas.” Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples