20 May, 2022
Stop the Racist Conservation Model!
Expanding Protected Areas in Asia also means expanding evictions, violence and further deforestation
From 24-29 May, 2022, IUCN’s 2nd Asia Parks Congress aims to set the agenda for Protected Areas in Asia for the next ten years.
For big conservation NGOs, the UN, corporations, and their allies, ‘Protected Areas’ largely mean enclosed areas without people, guarded by armed rangers. Across Asia, Protected Areas have a disturbing history of violence, evictions and long-standing conflicts with forest communities.
A recent report released by All India Forum of Forest Movements (AIFFM), together with the World Rainforest Movement (WRM), exposed the difficult realities of various Indigenous People and forest communities living in and around Protected Areas in the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in India.
The Asia Parks Congress will be the first IUCN regional event following the UN post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) plan, which includes the target of establishing at least 30 per cent of the Earth’s land and water as Protected Areas by 2030 (the 30x30 target).
The threat for expanding this conservation model is thus very high and a lot is at stake for forest communities.
The enclosure of forests as Protected Areas is also often labelled by the IUCN and the UN as ‘Nature-based Solutions’ (NbS). This misleading term however, opens the door for corporations to use these areas for claiming to be compensating the pollution they create elsewhere.
“More and more corporations, from Total to Microsoft to Unilever, are making ‘nature-based solutions’ the core of their climate action plans while the conservation industry taps into corporate ‘nature-based solutions’ funding to expand their control over forests,” alerts a statement released earlier this year by 364 organizations.
The idea of NbS builds on the harmful legacy of the failed REDD+ mechanism, which includes the grabbing of large areas of lands and forests and heavy restrictions on peasant and forest communities on how they can use their forests.
A recent WRM publication gathers eleven articles to reflect on the fundamental and dangerous dimensions of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), the dominant forest policy around the world since 2007.
Protected Areas, in tandem with so-called Nature-Based Solutions, REDD+ and other offset schemes, are already harming forest communities around the world as well as allowing the destruction of forest and climate chaos to further worsen!