Founded in 1996, ACT is a nonprofit organization that works with indigenous people to conserve the biodiversity, traditional culture, and health in Amazonia. Currently, ACT has joined forces with 28 tribes of indigenous people to create an area of environmental and cultural conservation that spans more than 40 million acres of the rainforest.2 ACT’s goal is to double that to 80 million by 2011.3 In the past, ACT partnered with the Brazilian government to help 14 tribes of the Xingu reserve to map their land of over 7.5 million acres of rainforest. The partnership with the Brazilian government validates the mapping project as a legal document and gives the indigenous people leverage to protect their lands against illegal activity. An article published in HerbalGram 624 explained that the indigenous people made sketches of their ancestral lands, and then they were supplied with satellite photographs and portable global positioning systems (GPS) to map their territories accurately.
The ethnographic mapping process enables the participating indigenous groups to exert greater influence over the future of their lands. The indigenous people are confirmed experts on key conservation areas and areas at risk, and they can be enlisted by protection agencies to serve as the eyes and ears of the lands, reporting back to those agencies when incursions occur, particularly with regard to border protection. Working in concert with indigenous people, representative associations like ACT become the obvious choice to develop and implement effective forest management policies and to keep national environmental enforcement agencies well informed on illegal incursions and ecologically destructive activities.
“Indigenous peoples know, manage, and protect the rainforest far better than we do,” said Mark Plotkin, PhD, co-founder and president of ACT.1 “If you want to protect the rainforest, why not enlist the assistance of the people who actually live there?”
“[ACT] is a tremendous addition to the community of Skoll entrepreneurs who have demonstrated, through their inspiration and creativity, courage, and fortitude, that solutions do exist for some of the world’s intractable problems,” said Skoll President and CEO Sally Osberg.1 “We believe their work has the potential for transformational benefit to indigenous cultures and forests of the Amazon and we’re honored to support their continued commitment to systemic change at the grassroots level.”
The Skoll Foundation was created by Jeff Skoll (ebay’s first president) in 1999.5 Its mission is to advance systemic change that benefit communities around the world by providing investment, connection, and celebration for social entrepreneurs.
—Kelly E. Saxton
- Native New Orleanian receives million dollar award from the Skoll Foundation [press release]. Arlington, VA: Amazon Conservation Team; March 11, 2008.
- About ACT page. ACT Web site. Available at http:// www.amazonteam.org/about.html. Accessed June 9, 2008.
- SASE Award recipients page. Skoll Foundation Web site. Available at http://www.skollfoundation.org/grantees/a-e.asp. Accessed June 9, 2008.
- Lucksinger J. ACT Partners with 14 Tribes to Map and Protect Amazon Forest. HerbalGram. 2004;62:165.
- About Skoll Foundation page. Skoll Foundation Web site. Available at http://www.skollfoundation.org/aboutskoll/. Accessed June 9, 2008.