The community in the Wanang Conservation Area in Papua New Guinea has been acknowledged for its outstanding contribution to conservation.
The area was one of 21 winners of the Equator Prize, which was formally presented during United Nations climate change talks in Paris in December.
The Wanang Conservation Area is an alliance of 10 indigenous, rainforest-dwelling clans that protect 10,000 hectares of forest for biodiversity research, carbon storage and sustainable livelihoods.
It was developed in response to commercial logging pressures and a lack of public services.
The initiative maintains a "forest dynamics plot", where the project has planted more than 280,000 plants to study changing climatic conditions.
A research station serves as a capacity building hub, where Wanang villagers and students are trained as para-ecologists and research technicians.
The local community was recognised by the PNG country director for the United Nations, Roy Trivedy, who said Wanang shows the potential of local communities to lead in protecting biodiversity while creating livelihoods.