Lasting sustainable development always starts with the people who care deeply for a place. Yet, local communities and indigenous peoples have formally recognized rights over merely 18% of the world's land – just a fraction of the vast amount of land they manage under customary practices. Research also tells us that these communities can be conservation’s greatest ally – to be the best stewards of natural landscapes, and to keep the carbon in the trees and the ground. At The Nature Conservancy, our work around the world with indigenous peoples and rural communities has also demonstrated that healthy ecosystems and strong communities are mutually reinforcing. With their strong historical and cultural connection to the land and their deep knowledge of the natural world and its sustainable management, indigenous peoples are among the most important partners for conservation. Recent research has shown that when indigenous peoples and local communities have rights over forests, deforestation rates are low. In fact, these communities were more successful than the governments at stopping illegal forest loss in protected areas. The Nature Conservancy is committed to supporting indigenous peoples and local communities in their conservation goals.