At The Cultural Sanctuaries Foundation, we work at the crossroads of conservation and culture. We focus on helping indigenous communities protect their culture, language and land. We focus too on economic realities – if a family’s only source of income is to cut down a tree or kill a rhino, it is unrealistic to expect them not to raise their axe or their gun. Equally if the children of traditional farmers have no option but to seek menial jobs in overcrowded cities, it is inevitable that traditional culture will erode, languages cease to be spoken and the knowledge of the land, forest and ocean fade away.
In each of our Cultural Sanctuary projects, we
- build cultural community centres to act as a focal point for cultural empowerment and celebration
- conduct cultural and linguistic surveys to record vital knowledge and language
- promote local storytelling, photography and film-making, and
- foster economic opportunities for communities to stay with their land.
- Clearly climate change and wilderness loss needs to be tackled in multiple ways. Humans must reduce carbon emissions, move away from fossil fuels, find alternative energy sources, change our agricultural norms, find new technologies in the construction, fashion, automotive and airline industries, reduce our use of plastic, cool our oceans, learn to eat and live more sustainably, stop allowing the planet’s resources to diminish….and so on.
- Crucially, we must protect the lungs of the earth and, in particular, our forests and oceans.
- If we stop just one square mile of forest being cut down, we offset the annual carbon footprint of 35,000 people….or 30,000 cars.
- It is crucial to protect and celebrate diverse culture for its own sake.
- Cultures are becoming more homogenised and losing their unique identities.
- Languages are disappearing on average at the rate of one every two weeks.
- That’s 24 languages vanishing every single year – and with them vital traditional knowledge. That’s like burning down 24 vast, valuable libraries a year.
We must protect the protectors.
“Indigenous cultures are often the best guardians of the land and sea: we must help them to protect their cultures and traditional knowledge and we must dramatically scale our efforts to do this…I believe very much in the work that The Cultural Sanctuaries Foundation is doing to make this a reality.” Russell A. Mittermeier, Chief Conservation Officer, Global Wildlife Conservation and former President of Conservation International