living land as law.

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A powerful global movement has begun.

New Zealand. Bolivia. India. Nepal. And even the United States. Across the globe, often guided by the belief systems and worldviews of many indigenous peoples, the natural world is winning a legal voice. By protecting rivers, mountains, and forests in law with "all of the rights, powers, duties, and liabilities of a legal person", legal accountability is shaping the way our natural world is being treated. This concept legally aims to neutralize an otherwise politically fraught debate over land as property, and requires visitors to shift the way they spend time in a place; in essence, to care for the land and its wildlife by treating it with the same respect you would another being. And this concept is not so far-fetched: in Canada, the U.S., and New Zealand, the concept of a "legal person" is used ubiquitously and enables municipalities, corporations, and even ships to have legal rights. So why not our natural world?

Living Land as Law is a journey across the far reaches of the globe in places that are implementing this new legal framework. For these pioneers, there is no one single road-map. But the exodus has begun. 

 NEW ZEALAND. Te Urewera. December 12, 2015. On July 27, 2014, this stunning and mystical land was decommissioned as a national park of the New Zealand Crown and returned to the governance of the rightful Tuhoe Maori. As part of the settlement to redress more than a century of historical injustices from the Crown, Te Urewera represents a landmark shift in conservation and indigenous rights in the western world. This is a concept that has been central to the way Tuhoe have seen this land for many generations. Te Urewera is now recognized in national law as a living, breathing being with "all the rights, powers, duties, and liabilities of a legal person."

NEW ZEALAND. Te Urewera. December 12, 2015. On July 27, 2014, this stunning and mystical land was decommissioned as a national park of the New Zealand Crown and returned to the governance of the rightful Tuhoe Maori. As part of the settlement to redress more than a century of historical injustices from the Crown, Te Urewera represents a landmark shift in conservation and indigenous rights in the western world. This is a concept that has been central to the way Tuhoe have seen this land for many generations. Te Urewera is now recognized in national law as a living, breathing being with "all the rights, powers, duties, and liabilities of a legal person."

We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.
— Aldo Leopold