Several important features of ICCA

* One or more communities closely relate to the ecosystems and species culturally and/or because of survival and dependence for livelihood;

* The community management decisions and efforts lead to the conservation of habitats, species, ecological services and associated cultural values, although the conscious objective of management may be different (e.g., livelihood, water security, safeguarding of cultural and spiritual places).

* The communiti(es) are the major players in decision-making and implementation regarding the management of the site, implying that community institutions have the capacity to enforce regulations; in many situations there may be other stakeholders in collaboration or partnership, but primary decision-making is with the communiti(es).

The Significance of ICCAs

ICCAs are an important complement to official PA systems.

§ They help conserve critical ecosystems and threatened species, maintain essential ecosystem functions including water security, and provide corridors and linkages for animal and gene movement, including between two or more officially protected areas.

§ They are critical to the cultural and economic survival of millions of people.

§ They help synergise the links between agricultural biodiversity and wildlife, providing larger land/waterscape level integration.

§ They offer crucial lessons for participatory governance of official PAs, useful to resolve conflicts between PAs and local people.

§ They offer lessons in systems of conservation that integrate customary and statutory laws.

§ They are often built on sophisticated ecological knowledge systems, elements of which have wider positive use.

§ They are part of indigenous peoples and local community resistance to destructive ‘development’, e.g. rainforests threatened by mining, dams, and logging industries, ecologically sensitive high-altitude ecosystems threatened by tourism, over-exploitation of marine resources by industrial fishing, etc.

via IUCN – Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas.