Conservationism

The 'parks without people' conservation model has its roots in the 19th century U.S.A. It has expanded worldwide and given rise to an elitist conservation industry dominated by big conservation NGOs. This model has become another major threat to the physical and cultural survival of forest-dependent communities, their knowledge and their traditional conservation practises.

A group of riparian Batwa people, exasperated by the extreme poverty following their eviction in order to establish the Kahuzi Biega National Park, decided to return to their ancestral forests. Since then, they regularly clash with the “eco-guards,” sometimes leading to the loss of human lives.

Back in 2004, conservation NGOs and the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry pioneered with a model called Ecosystem Restoration Concessions. This article takes a closer look at this model in the context of new and old threats to forests, and the global push for “forest restoration”. (Available in Indonesian).

A key tactic for the giant pulp producer, Suzano S.A, to keep expanding its industrial eucalyptus plantations in Brazil, is to market itself as a company that practices “conservation” and “restoration.” This conceals its disastrous track record related to forest and forest-dwelling populations.

The indigenous Ngäbe-Buglé people had to endure brutal repression to avoid the onslaught on their territories. They managed to get the Government to ban mining and hydroelectric dams in their territory. However, another intense onslaught came from conservationist NGOs.

This editorial aims to raise a high alert with regard to the corporate agendas that dominate international forest-related processes, which appear to be entering new phases. The decisions taken have very real impacts on forest communities.

Language is never neutral. Certain concepts have historically been used to dominate people and territories. This article highlights concepts that are usually presented in a positive light but that actually serve economic interests that harm forests and communities.

The money that the Indian Government collects from companies destroying forests, such as mining companies, is being used to harass, persecute and evict people from the so-called Protected Areas, such as the Tiger Reserves, National Parks and Wild Life Sanctuaries.

The government claims that small-scale agriculture is responsible for deforestation. But this claim ignores government policies that drive land-use changes and destructive markets as well as the exclusion of indigenous peoples through the creation of reserves.

BIOFUND, a conservation fund to finance protected areas in Mozambique—with support from the World Bank, international cooperation and conservation NGOs—intends to use biodiversity offsets to obtain resources and speculate in financial markets.

Serious abuses in DRC’s Salonga National Park at the hands of park rangers supported by funding from the WWF and a range of international donors are just the latest to be documented. This is a wider problem on human rights abuses and colonial interventions in forests.

Conservationist NGOs are increasingly making partnerships with companies that, in fact, are the main drivers of environmental and social disasters. Even worse, they portray their corporate partners as the willing participants of the “solutions”. But, which solutions are they seeking? And solutions for whom?