Indigenous Peoples and Local Community Specialist


The Indigenous Peoples and Local Community (IPLC) Specialist will ensure that protected areas and OECMs created with support from Rainforest Trust meet high standards for consideration of and response to the needs of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. More specifically, it will have four main objectives:

  • Expand our portfolio of projects which secure land tenure rights for indigenous people or enhance ownership and management authority of local communities
  • Ensure that every Rainforest Trust project meets high standards of respecting human rights including compliance with FPIC
  • Establish metrics for these objectives, monitor and report, and review the human rights impact of Rainforest Trust’s historical projects
  • Liaise with the indigenous rights and human rights communities and manage Rainforest Trust’s public statements on these issues.

The Indigenous Peoples and Local Community (IPLC) Specialist will focus on projects and partnerships across the global extent of Rainforest Trust work with a strong focus on the Amazon, Tropical Andes, Central Africa, Indonesia, and the island of Papua New Guinea. This position will work very closely with organizations applying for funding from Rainforest Trust and hands on experience with issues related to FPIC and IPLC is required.

The position will be extensively involved in project development and evaluation and the preparation of material for presentation to senior leadership and Board of Directors at Rainforest Trust.

Remote candidates are encouraged to apply. The position can be permanently remote or can work some days from our Warrenton, Virginia office. International candidates will be considered as will the possibility of a consultancy position with an individual or organization.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

  • Develop and implement a methodology for evaluating social and economic impacts on indigenous and local communities of our present and proposed conservation projects across Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific
  • Provide guidance to partner organization personnel in mitigating the impacts of protected area and OECM projects on IPLCs including implementation of FPIC
  • Seek collaboration and expertise from other organizations to complement those resources that Rainforest Trust contributes, and work to integrate our partners into international networks (e.g., the Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy of IUCN)
  • Work with the Conservation Strategy Team and project implementers to develop scientifically sound applications that meet our project criteria
  • Prepare and present application-related information and materials to the Board of Directors as necessary
  • Travel internationally (up to 40% of time) to field sites, organizational offices, and/or meetings to prospect new projects, evaluate organizations and collect media assets
  • Collaborate with other members of the Rainforest Trust Conservation Department to extract news about the social context and impacts of Rainforest Trust projects, and on monitoring the success of existing supported protected areas
  • Act as a spokesperson for Rainforest Trust on IPLC issues
  • Other duties related to organizational operations as assigned

Education and Experience

  • Knowledge of the intersection between conservation and human rights, and IPLC issues in particular
  • Knowledge of Free, Prior and Informed Consent best practice
  • Creative thoughts on opportunities for IPLC and conservation collaboration
  • Ability to build and maintain relationships across diverse stakeholders
  • Highly effective interpersonal skills with the ability to communicate with diverse personalities in a tactful, mature, and professional manner
  • Dynamic in conversation and writing and able to speak passionately about Rainforest Trust’s impact
  • Strategic and creative thinker, able to problem solve with minimal supervision and willing to promote new ideas
  • Excellent listening skills and willingness to serve others
  • Strong business acumen with the ability to monitor, compile and analyze data to guide decision making
  • Ability to work independently, exercise confidentiality, and good judgment
  • Excellent organizational and time management skills with a strong attention to detail and ability to prioritize, delegate, and ensure that deadlines are met
  • Ability to remain flexible and work within a collaborative and fast-paced environment
  • Proficient use of database management software, ArcGIS is a plus as is experience with Google Workspace and Microsoft Office programs including Word, Excel, PowerPoint.
  • A degree in anthropology, public policy, biological or environmental sciences or related fields is required. Master’s degree in a relevant field (or PhD), or the equivalent experience is highly valued. A blending of educational experience that incorporates biological conservation with social science is valued.
  • 7+ years experience working at the intersection of human rights/social science and biological conservation
  • Extensive experience working with or for IPLCs.
  • Experience in protected area establishment and management is a plus.
  • 5+ years experience working in the field in Latin America, Africa, Asia or the Pacific, with experience in or of an additional regions a plus
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills in English
  • Fluency or proficiency in spoken and written Spanish, French, Portuguese, or other language spoken in Rainforest Trust priority regions a plus

Other Duties and Responsibilities

Please note this job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee for this job. Additional duties and/or responsibilities may be required. Duties, responsibilities, and activities may change at any time with or without notice.

About Rainforest Trust

We purchase and protect the most threatened tropical forests

Since 1988, Rainforest Trust has been safeguarding imperiled tropical habitats and saving endangered species by establishing protected areas, broadly defined, in partnership with local organizations and communities. With our partners, we have protected more than 37 million acres of vital habitat across Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Rainforest Trust is a US 501c3 nonprofit organization that relies upon the generous support of the public to implement our conservation action.

Historically, about 40% of our programs have enhanced tenure rights or ownership or management of natural resources for indigenous people and local communities. These include, for example, land-titling in Peru and community forest management in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We have committed that at least half of our program going forward will help safeguard such rights and that our support of every single project will be conditional on indigenous and local communities giving their Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC).

Equal Opportunity Employer

Rainforest Trust is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to the principles of diversity. Our organization recruits, hires, trains, and promotes individuals, as well as administers any and all personnel actions, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, citizenship, age, personal appearance, family responsibilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, veteran status, political affiliation, genetic information or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state or local law.

Working Conditions and Physical Requirements

The Indigenous Peoples and Local Community Specialist may choose to work from home, at our office in Warrenton, VA or a combination of the two. Home work requires reliable internet access.

The physical requirements described here are representative of those that must be met by a teammate to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • Ability to remain in a stationary position at a computer terminal for an extended period. The person in this position frequently communicates with colleagues both verbally and in writing and must be able to exchange accurate, organized and thorough information.
  • The ability to transport oneself through airports and within field locations that may require some walking or light hiking to access / the ability to live for up to two weeks at a time in areas with few amenities and potentially limited variety of food options.

How to Apply:

Please submit a résumé and cover letter to

Rainforest Trust is an environmental conservation organization that creates solutions to protect the Earth and improve people’s lives. The policy of Rainforest Trust is to provide equal opportunity and access to employment and service. Rainforest Trust shall not discriminate against an individual based on race, color, ethnicity, ancestry, religion or creed, national origin, age, citizenship, sex, marital or parental status, sexual orientation, political affiliation or ideology, gender identity, protected veteran status, or disability. All Rainforest Trust recruitment, employment, promotion, advancement and similar decisions related to employment shall be made based on job-related criteria and applicable laws (including non-discrimination and government security requirements). Rainforest Trust’s global agenda requires a staff that is diverse – with respect to race, gender, cultural, and international background. Diverse perspectives and experience enhance the creativity and applicability of Rainforest Trust’s research and project implementation.