A new study says indigenous communities can be more effective at protecting natural resources than conservation authorities.
The report, by scientists at the Centre for International Forestry Research, says indigenous communities take the role of conservation groups when formal authorities are absent.
One of the studies authors, Douglas Sheil, says it highlights how local protection is often undermined as authorities do not recognise the conservation work already going on.
He says many communities are forcibly removed from protected areas, which he says is a missed opportunity to support work they're already doing.
Mr Sheil says there is a risk that effective indigenous conservation may be replaced by protected areas that are inadequately managed by under-funded government authorities.