SPECIAL REPORTING PROJECT – INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, LOCAL COMMUNITIES (IPLCs) AND CONSERVATION

Arhauco indigenous leader fixing the saddle of his mule

Arhauco indigenous leader fixing the saddle of his mule. Image courtesy of Mongabay.

Background:

Indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ (IPLCs) stewardship and knowledge 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 these communities continue to face grave threats when it comes to protecting their lands.

Some Indigenous peoples and local communities are challenged by groups who fail to recognize their land rights and the loss of traditional knowledge, which erodes cultural identity. The lack of secure land tenure among these communities is an important factor in the proliferation of deforestation, biodiversity loss, human rights abuses and rising inequality. Indigenous and local communities’ lands are often targeted for infrastructure projects and industrial resource extraction, such as oil and gas development, mining, and logging. These projects are having profound impacts on Indigenous and local communities, who are disproportionately affected by environmental degradation.

Articles published under this topic can be viewed here and here.

Objectives:

Mongabay is seeking stories that bring to light Indigenous and local community-led conservation projects and other environmental issues that affect or are relevant to Indigenous and local communities and cultures around the world.

Suggested story topics and guidelines:

We welcome proposals from experienced journalists for conventional news stories, in-depth features, investigative reports, profiles, and case studies in English, French, Spanish, or Portuguese. We will also consider proposals for fully edited and produced videos of up to 10 minutes in length.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Indigenous and locally-led projects to restore their communities, cultural heritage, languages and livelihoods with the positive impacts these have on biodiversity conservation or climate change adaptation and mitigation. This includes terrestrial ecosystems, marine ecosystems, or both.
  • Cooperation with Indigenous peoples and local communities or adoption of Indigenous traditional knowledge and practices by scientific bodies, surrounding communities, national and multinational climate and biodiversity frameworks, or grassroots and non-governmental organizations
  • Profiles of Indigenous and local leaders, activists and policymakers making significant or novel contributions to biodiversity conservation and climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • Cases demonstrating the clear contributions and critical role Indigenous peoples and local communities play in the success of the motion to protect 30% of land and ocean by 2030 (known as the ‘30 by 30 target’), with a particular emphasis on the world’s oceans and marine fisheries
  • Cases of conservation projects disregarding Indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ knowledge and interests, and of contributing to their loss of land and resource rights (including initiatives to achieve the ‘30 by 30’ target protecting 30% of land and ocean by 2030)
  • Threats to Indigenous peoples and local communities and their land rights from extractive industries, such as oil and gas development and mining, logging, agribusiness, infrastructure projects and tourism businesses
  • Impact of disease, poverty, and loss of cultural heritage and language on Indigenous peoples and local communities and their stewardship of the environment
  • Latest governmental and local legislation and policies affecting or targeting Indigenous peoples and local communities’ land tenure (both positive and negative stories)
  • Reports of violence and threats against or incarceration of Indigenous and local environmental defenders

For the purposes of this process, Mongabay is accepting pitches about Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) from around the world. We refer to Indigenous peoples and local communities as, typically, ethnic groups who are descended from and identify with the original inhabitants of a given region, in contrast to groups that have settled, occupied or colonized the area more recently. Indigenous peoples, in particular, tend to have a strong link to a territory’s natural resources and continue to practice traditional and distinct social, cultural, and political systems from the surrounding dominant group.

Opinion pieces, or commentaries, will not be considered for this project and are not paid opportunities. Please share commentary pitches using this form and refer to submission guidelines here.

The typical story will range from 800 to 2,000 words in length, though longer articles will be considered. Authors are also expected to identify several images for Mongabay’s use to accompany their articles, along with captions and photo credits.

Mongabay will negotiate all fees and contracts on a per-story basis. Completed stories will be published on Mongabay.com under an open Creative Commons license that allows for sharing, re-publication, and re-posting. Images are typically published under these same licensing terms. The stories could potentially be translated into another language and published on one of Mongabay’s sister sites. More information on Mongabay’s editorial standards and practices can be found here.

How to submit your story pitch 

To send Mongabay a pitch, please be prepared to also share your resume/portfolio along with three samples of your work. The story pitch should be roughly 500 words in length and include a title for the project. Viable pitches will clearly explain the specific subject you would like to write about in detail and your approach to covering it, and describe a few potential sources. Proposals for video stories should also include a shot list, a list of expected interviews, and links to samples of previous video work.

Support for travel expenses may also be provided by Mongabay. Please include a preliminary travel plan and budget estimate (using this template) if support for travel expenses will be required to carry out reporting. Do not include payments for your work in this budget estimate. Please also describe the COVID-19-related precautions you intend to take and any travel restrictions that may impact your plans.

We are accepting pitches on a rolling basis.

Pitch a story to the Global team in English

Pitch a story to the Africa team in English or French

Pitch a story to the Brazil team in English or Portuguese

Pitch a story to the Latin America team in English or Spanish

Pitch a story to the Southeast Asia team in English