Launched by Uganda, France and Gabon, the "One Forest Guardians" Coalition aims to bring together by 2024 countries that wish to request the registration of the cultural practices of indigenous peoples in relation to emblematic animal species of tropical forests on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Among these species, great apes, elephants, panthers, living in tropical forests, have a special place in the traditions and local knowledge of indigenous peoples. They are also threatened species, that have a key ecological role for the forests as "umbrella" species. This term means that the protection of species with a large territory also allows the preservation of a large number of fauna and flora species sharing their habitat.

With the erosion of tropical forest biodiversity, the intangible cultural heritage of indigenous peoples who have strong spiritual ties to these species is at risk of disappearing.

The objective of this coalition is to support the project of indigenous peoples to safeguard their knowledge and traditions in their diversity and to highlight these species as common goods for humanity since they guarantee the safeguarding of forests.

As such, indigenous peoples will play an invaluable role as sentinels and guardians of the forests.

This coalition also strengthens cooperation between research in the human and biological sciences and communities, civil society and education, and makes the relationship between climate, tropical forest preservation and biodiversity more tangible for citizens in order to better preserve biodiversity and unrecoverable carbon reserves.

Intangible Heritage Home - intangible heritage - Culture Sector - UNESCO

The expected results of the coalition are:

  • An inventory of practices related to emblematic forest animal species carried out by local communities, NGOs, and researchers.
  • The recording by countries of indigenous cultural practices related to threatened species, umbrella species, emblematic species (and possibly indicator species) of tropical forests (great apes, elephants, pangolins, etc.) in their national inventories.
  • The launching of a multi-country process to register cultural practices related to these species as intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
  • The proposal by countries to create new biosphere reserves (MAB-UNESCO) to contribute to the preservation of human-nature links and consequently to a favorable cohabitation and a better preservation of biodiversity.
  • The strengthening of networks of countries in the range of these species in order to act for the preservation of their forest habitat and the indigenous cultures that are linked to them.
  • The identification of these different initiatives and the joint work of researchers in ecology, anthropology and local communities and the monitoring of their development and effects through the platform developed within the framework of the One Forest Vision(OFVi) initiative.

The "One Forest Guardians" declaration of intent, established with the UNESCO, is open for signature since the One Forest Summit in March 2023.