Conservationist NGOs

The conservation model that conservationist NGOs like WWF, Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy promote excludes communities that have been living on the land often long before it was declared to be a “protected area.” This parks-without-people approach has led to increasingly militarized conservation areas and greater violence against communities in and around forests that have been declared as protected areas. Conservationist NGOs have entered into partnerships with corporations—including the world's largest oil and mining corporations—thereby transforming into an industry that propitiously greenwashes the image of these corporations.

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. Expanding Protected Areas in Asia also means expanding evictions, violence and further deforestation.
This bulletin focuses on a central cause of large-scale deforestation and dispossession of forest peoples: The imposition of land concessions as an instrument to separate, divide and map land according to economic and political interests. In consequence, the editorial alerts on the grabbing of vast amounts of hectares for Carbon Concessions.
This text comes out of conversations with women from the Ribeira River Valley who have devoted themselves to opposing the concession of one of the region’s most important parks. Their struggle is fundamental, and part of diverse resistances against the privatizing trend of creating ‘territories without people’. They remind us that their territory has been and is rooted in their stories, voices and resistance.
The conservation industry is now promoting the idea of ‘buying up’ Conservation Concessions and reconstituting them as business models with profit-seeking aims. A case in point is the ‘African Parks Network’, which manages 19 National Parks and Protected Areas in 11 countries in Africa.

Communities in Nyanga province, Gabon, released the Bana / Mayumba Declaration in which they call for the suspension of the GRANDE MAYUMBA project, a multi-concession megaproject marketing as a so-called Nature-Based Solution.

The statement calls on climate, environmental and social justice movements to unequivocally reject “Nature-Based Solutions” and all offset schemes because they are not designed to address the climate crisis. It remains open for sign-on until the end of 2021.

The Sangha region is entirely under the control of three concessions that have colonial origins and continue to deploy guards against the forest inhabitants to prevent them using their ancestral lands.

They have been living in the Kaeng Krachan forests for generations. When a National Park was created, they started to suffer violence and evictions. 22 people have been prosecuted this year. They could face a jail term of 4 to 20 years.

It is imperative to understand the concept of ‘nature-based solutions,’ to name it for what it is: ‘nature-based dispossessions’, and to expose the real threat it poses to territories.

While the concept of ‘Nature Based Solutions’ has eagerly been seized upon by polluting industries, financial institutions and governments, its origins lie somewhere else.

The term ‘nature-based solutions,’ in the context of the exclusionary and predatory projects that gather behind it, reveals something fundamental.

WRM Bulletin Compilation. Available in English and Indonesian.