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.

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?

Despite the harassment from Forest Department guards, who tried to prevent the Fulwaripara village to submit their claims for recognition of their land under the Forest Rights Act, the village managed to do so. Yet, their claim was not completed. Now, they face again the threat of eviction.

Conservationist NGOs working in Suriname have increased the pressure for Wayana Indigenous Peoples. After years of harsh top-down ways of dealing with forest communities, the Wayana have decided to seek for their own path, one that follows their own way of thinking and living.

For the past eighty years, the Maasai have been displaced and dispossessed of their land, livelihoods, and more in Northern Tanzania, all under the guise of “conservation.” This article traces the origins of this dispossession through to present day struggles, calling for international solidarity.

The creation of the Maya Biosphere Reserve has been legitimizing a destructive model: infrastructure and energy projects, hand-in-hand with Protected Areas “without people.” While conservation NGOs fatten their portfolios, peasant and indigenous communities are displaced, or conditioned to depend on NGOs and the market.

In Africa’s Congo Basin the many promises of rights-based and participatory conservation have miserably failed to materialise. For communities living in and around protected areas, the reality continues to be one of dispossession, impoverishment and widespread human rights abuses.