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Human Welfare
    Indigenous People

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More than 1.35 billion people live in biodiversity hotspots and high-biodiversity wilderness areas. Their lives and livelihoods are supported by an array of ecological services such as clean air and fresh water – benefits needed by everyone, whether in urban or rural settings.

The rural poor within hotspots depend on the products of healthy ecosystems, harvesting wild plants for food, fuel, clothing, medicine and shelter. These services also help maintain energy and infrastructure activities that underpin economic development. For example, coral reefs, wetlands and mangroves can buffer beaches and prevent storm surges and coastal flooding. The value of these ecological services is tremendous and we are only beginning to measure their significance.

Human activities threaten the world’s terrestrial, freshwater and marine biodiversity. Species are becoming extinct and pristine landscapes are disappearing at unprecedented rates. These trends threaten severe consequences for humankind, as ecosystems lose their ability to provide the goods and services that generate irreplaceable economic, agriculture, public health, cultural and spiritual benefits. Even though restoration is sometimes possible, it is far more expensive than maintaining functioning ecosystems in the first place. Conserving biodiversity is, therefore, part of protecting the critical ecosystems that are essential for both environmental and economic sustainability.

Conservation International (CI) believes that conservation must benefit people and that protecting and maintaining basic ecological processes and ecosystem services are the foundation for sustainable livelihoods and economic development. CI supports human welfare throughout the hotspots by working to insure that the basic ecological services that people depend on remain intact.

CI’s actions to support human welfare, environmental services and biodiversity conservation are at the core of what we do and are underway within all of our major centers and programs. These programs include Conservation Stewards, Conservation Enterprises , Ecotourism, Population and Environment, the Human Dimensions and Conservation Economics programs in the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS) as well as efforts underway in the Center for Environmental Leadership in Busines (CELB).

Resources and Links
CI Wide
CABS Web site: www.biodiversityscience.org
CELB Web site: celb.org
Ecotourism Web site: www.ecotour.org
Frontlines: Conservation and People News


© CI
The Ixcán Biological Station in Chiapas, Mexico combines biological research with low-impact tourism. The project provides the local community with a sustainable alternative to destructive slash-and-burn agriculture.

© CI, Haroldo Castro
In the Mountains of Southwest China Hotspot, CI is working with local conservation groups to protect traditional sacred sites — natural places that are rich in biodiversity and treasured in Tibetan culture.

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