Martin von Hildebrand has been working with indigenous people for the last 42 years to protect their rights and the environment.
Martin lived with indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest from the 1972 through 1980. There, he witnessed rubber tappers exploiting the lands and missionaries converting the indigenous people from their traditional ways. By listening to the indigenous people, he was able to learn what they wanted, and to explore ways to secure their future.
Martin realized that, the indigenous people needed to secure land rights, the right to self-governance, and environmental protections. Martin worked with the government to secure all of these rights. In Colombia, 26 million hectares were set aside. Indigenous people have their own governmental system, and they are managing their environmental programs.
Martin’s work is spreading beyond Colombia to the rest of the Amazon. The Amazon is critical for so many reason. The Amazon is a rich source of biodiversity. Twenty percent of the world’s oxygen comes from the Amazon. And the Amazon rainforest is responsible for moving moisture from the sea inwards, through what has been described as “flying rivers.”
Today, the rainforest remains under pressure from hydropower, oil, mining, roads, timber production and agriculture. Martin takes a collaborative and pragmatic approach to saving the rainforest.