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Reflecting on Conservation's past
Peter Kareiva, chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy, admits to “conservation heresy” in his blog post from 19 May, Should Protected Areas Be Reexamined?
In this entry, Kareiva ponders the plight of indigenous peoples displaced from their lands in the creation of large-scale conservation reserves. Inspired by Mark Dowie’s new book, Conservation Refugees, Kareiva asserts that the “key question is to what extent have we — and by ‘we,’ I mean the big conservation NGOs such as The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International and WWF — mended our ways so that we no longer disrespect the rights of indigenous people in pursuit of our missions.”
While TNC, CI and WWF have codified institutional policies to protect the rights of indigenous peoples and include them in the establishment and management of protected areas, Kareiva worries that these conservation giants all too often stay silent when national governments’ creation of protected areas violate the rights of indigenous people. “To what extent are we willing to speak out if a national government does not respect the rights of the indigenous people who live inside newly created protected areas?” asks Kareiva.
Citing Dowie, Kareiva is hopeful that the conservation establishment is now shedding its old colonialist attitudes toward indigenous peoples, and questioning the guidance of founding conservationists, like John Muir, who hastened to evict local peoples from nature reserves.
As pressures on protected areas are projected to rise sharply in the next 50 years, Kareiva calls for the full recognition and inclusion of indigenous peoples in the management of protected areas: “I cannot imagine more effective stewardship of protected areas than that provided by the local communities who manage, live in, draw benefits from, but also seek to sustain the natural capital of those areas. The only protected-area strategy that has any chance of lasting results is one that embraces people living in and extracting livelihoods from the ecosystems we seek to sustain.”
Posted By Marina France at 11:55am on May 26, 2009
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