Indigenous peoples’ stewardship of natural resources is increasingly being recognized as a critical priority in efforts to combat climate change, protect biodiversity, and maintain the ecosystems that sustain the planet. Yet indigenous communities continue to face grave threats when it comes to protecting their lands: a 2016 report by Global Witness found that 40 percent of those killed defending the environment in 2015 were members of indigenous communities. Some indigenous peoples are challenged by governments’ failure to recognize their land rights and the loss of traditional knowledge, which erodes cultural identity.

To raise greater awareness of these issues, Mongabay is undertaking a special reporting project to focus specifically on the intersection of indigenous peoples and conservation. The Indigenous Peoples and Conservation project will produce a series of journalistic stories that explore threats to indigenous peoples’ territories and showcase successful indigenous-led conservation initiatives.

Turkana women in Kenya. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.


















We welcome proposals from experienced journalists for two kinds of stories:

Community profiles: Each of these will be a multiple-part profile of an indigenous community that features an ongoing conservation project, ideally one that has demonstrated successful outcomes. Each profile will explore the key factors contributing to the project’s current circumstance and future prospects. Profiles should include photos, videos and perhaps other media packaged to support a long-form narrative of approximately 2,000-4,000 words in length. Longer stories should be complemented by shorter standalone side stories or videos that focus on specific aspects of the project or community, or interviews with interesting community members.

News stories: Each news story will focus on some aspect of indigenous peoples’ intersection with conservation practice. Potential stories include breaking news, reported features, interviews, and shorter profiles of projects or people. Stories will be approximately 1,200-2,000 words in length.

There is no geographic limitation in our selection criteria. Priority will be given to pitches with strong field-reporting elements, that include photography and video dimensions, and that have a high potential for republication or partnership. Opinion pieces will not be considered. Authors will be expected to provide 5-10 publishable photos to accompany their articles, along with captions and photo credits. Journalists can supply unedited video footage for Mongabay to produce. Additional payments are available for this footage if Mongabay decides to use it.

Mongabay will negotiate all fees and contracts on a per-story basis. Stories will be published on under an open Creative Commons license that allows for sharing and re-posting. We will also offer a small payment to journalists who proactively get their stories republished in major third-party print media outlets and on sites that draw more than 100,000 unique visitors per month.

An indigenous park guard playing a flute made from bamboo grass in Suriname. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.


















All applications must be submitted in English, and all final reporting will be published first in English. All final reporting could potentially be translated into another language and published by Mongabay. Journalists who identify as indigenous are encouraged to submit story proposals.

Please submit your Indigenous Peoples and Conservation pitch here, along with your journalism resume and three clips. Pitches should not exceed one cleanly formatted page. Pitches should indicate whether they are for in-depth profiles or topical stories. They should clearly explain the proposed story subject and angle, list a few potential sources, and include an itemized estimate of any travel funding needed to complete the project. Please note that travel funds are limited.