Amazon Conservation Team - (ACT)
The Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) is a creative and effective organization devoted to protecting native cultures and ecosystems in the American tropics.
ACT was founded in 1995 by a group of conservationists to address a pressing need for a new kind of environmental organization that would work in true partnership with indigenous peoples to preserve their ancient wisdom and cultures, as well as the lands that sustain them. These conservationists, from Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Suriname and the United States with centuries of field experience among them, have developed new and effective conservation strategies and programmes by combining western science and technology with tribal wisdom.
ACT's unique approach has added a much-needed complement to the work being done by larger, traditional environmental organizations. A cornerstone of the ACT approach is the Shaman's Apprentice Programme, whereby young members of indigenous tribes train with traditional shamans and other elders to become both the healers and environmental guardians of the next generation.
The most recent culmination of the ACT’s efforts was the second annual meeting of the most ancient and powerful shamans of the northwest Amazon (and their apprentices). At this unprecedented gathering, 42 shamans from seven tribes put aside their tribal differences and worked cooperatively to seize control of their environmental and cultural destinies, which they believe to be inextricably intertwined. ACT is working with these indigenous people and the Colombian Government to create a new category of protected area: Indigenous Reserves and Sacred Sites. The first 10,000-hectare site has already been established. In the northwest of the Amazon, ACT has partnered with the Tirio Indians to map their traditional homeland, an area of more than 20 million acres, and is helping them petition the Government for title to these lands. ACT is actively involved with these and other tribes to sustainably manage their forests for Brazil nuts and other non-timber products giving important economic value to ecosystem protection.
ACT is a powerful example of what can be accomplished by a small, dedicated team of people who share the same philosophy and vision. It is a model that should be replicated around the world.