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The Cultural Sanctuaries Foundation

Preservation at the crossroads of culture and conservation


The CSF is a global charitable foundation which was founded in 2016 in the wake of the Paris Climate Change Summit in order to help protect endangered culture and wilderness.

The Foundation is led by Chris Rainier, a National Geographic Explorer and Fellow who helped direct a number of major initiatives at National Geographic focused on documenting traditional culture and knowledge across the world and helping to empower indigenous communities to persevere their biodiversity, and Olivia McKendrick who brings 25 years’ experience as a corporate lawyer and partner at one of the world’s largest law firms Linklaters.

Their board and council of advisers include some of the world’s leaders in conservation, anthropology, business, media and tourism.

The CSF team is passionate about the connection between culture and conservation and are unique in focusing in the area of creating legally protected Sanctuaries. We are ambitious, dedicated, pragmatic, and focused on the urgency of the challenge.

Why save culture

At the CSF, they passionately believe that while human beings have been and are an integral part of the cause of climate change and catastrophic loss of wilderness and flora and fauna, they can, and have to, be part of the solution. Traditional communities are the best and most effective guardians of biodiversity but can only be its protectors if they can thrive and if they have sustainable economic opportunity.

The need to protect culture to protect the land sits alongside the need to protect culture for its own sake. We must actively protect the diversity and beauty of culture if we are to achieve a balance and if we are not to wake up in a monochromatic world - and we must work fast to protect the earth from the huge challenges of an increasing population and climate change.

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What they do

They work hand-in-hand with indigenous communities, governments and local partners to create Cultural Sanctuaries where both biodiversity and culture are protected in law. Each of their Sanctuary projects comprises four main components:

  1. Cultural and linguistic survey: with a multi-disciplinary team of local and international academics and scientists, they conduct a survey of the culture, knowledge and language of the area. This extensive snapshot of the culture is created for the benefit of the community and becomes an archive housed within the cultural community centre referred to below.
  2. Legal protection: they work with the relevant government to create a protected cultural zone – a layering of protection of culture and language to complement existing or proposed biodiversity protection.
  3. Cultural community centre: they create a cultural community centre to act as a gathering place for the community, a focal point for workshops and discussion and a centre for tourists to visit and learn about the local culture and biodiversity. In addition, they facilitate workshops on storytelling which enhance the connection between culture and the land and provide training in photography and film to empower the opportunity for the community to tell their own story.
  4. Tourism and media: with their tourism and media partners, they harness tourism and international attention for the direct benefit of the community and help to bring appropriate economic opportunity to the Sanctuary area.

Help us to support The Cultural Sanctuaries Foundation by making a donation today.

How can I make a donation?

There are many more ways you can help towards our goal. We understand that your giving is important to you and we want you to do it in the way that suits you. If you would like to find out about more ways you can support The Cultural Sanctuaries Foundation, please contact our Individual Giving Manager at [email protected] and find out how we can make the best of your generous contributions.

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