By Rhett Butler, Mongabay.com
July 15, 2015 – One of the biggest complaints about nature conservation is that the business is often a top-down affair, where decisions are made by officials and NGOs in distant cities, rather than at the local level, where most of the impacts occur and the bulk of heavy lifting needs to be done. Accordingly, the conservation-from-a-distance approach often suffers lack of local buy-in, translating to paper parks, where protected areas exist in name only.
Keenly aware of this issue, Nature and Culture International (NCI) puts local communities at the center of its efforts to support the establishment and expansion of protected areas in Latin America. Focusing on “bottom-up conservation”, NCI has helped protect over 13.3 million acres (5.4 million hectares) of threatened ecosystems in Peru, Ecuador and Mexico since 1997, making it one of the most influential non-profits in the region, despite maintaining a low profile.