When Javier Lijo bought nine acres of deforested land atop a Panamanian island, his plan was to spend his time surfing. The land he bought was cleared grazing land for cattle, but when he read about the theory of permaculture, a different idea was born: he wanted to create an eco-haven farm free of pesticides, where everything had a use. That was 20 years ago and through learning from the indigenous people who have been managing Panama's forests for centuries, Javier now lives in a thriving, forested eco-haven. Javier is not the only one who has realized the value of indigenous knowledge to forest conservation: the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute has a number of projects where it's scientists work closely together with indigenous peoples.

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