Oscar Mishaja, rainforest guide in the Tambopata region. (Photo by R. Butler)
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' ROLE IN CONSERVATION
By Rhett Butler
| Last updated July 31, 2012
Tropical forests have been inhabited by humans for tens of thousands of years, and human activities on a traditional
scale may actually help promote forest diversity. Traditionally forest-dependent indigenous peoples have rarely over-exploited the resource that provides them with their livelihood, and they carefully practice rotational farming and sustainably harvest forest products and game. Yet these indigenous peoples often take the brunt of the blame for the destruction of the rainforests. Creating
reserves has sometimes evicted these traditional peoples from their lands and in some places national park rangers
unfairly restrict their activities. Less so today, but frequently in the past, tribal peoples were disregarded
when national government granted concessions to foreign oil, mining, and logging firms on their traditional lands.
Indigenous people have missed out on most of the benefits garnered by forest developers.
Articles on indigenous people and conservation >>
Indigenous people have intimate knowledge and perspectives of the forest ecosystem around them. Instead of looking as them with condescension, scientists, environmentalists, and conservationists must come to view indigenous people as an asset to forest use and conservation.
- What can we learn from indigenous people about rainforest conservation?
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An impossible balancing act? Forests benefit from isolation, but at cost to local communities
(10/07/2014) The indigenous people of the Amazon live in areas that house many of the Amazon’s diverse species. The Rupununi region of Guyana is one such area, with approximately 20,000 Makushi and Wapishana people living in isolation. According to a recent study published in Environmental Modelling & Software, a simulation model revealed a link between growing indigenous populations and gradual local resource depletion.
Turning point for Peru's forests? Norway and Germany put muscle and money behind ambitious agreement
(09/24/2014) From the Andes to the Amazon, Peru houses some of the world's most spectacular forests. Proud and culturally-diverse indigenous tribes inhabit the interiors of the Peruvian Amazon, including some that have chosen little contact with the outside world. And even as scientists have identified tens-of-thousands of species that make their homes from the leaf litter to the canopy.
Extinction island? Plans to log half an island could endanger over 40 species
(09/22/2014) Woodlark Island is a rare place on the planet today. This small island off the coast Papua New Guinea is still covered in rich tropical forest, an ecosystem shared for thousands of years between tribal peoples and a plethora of species, including at least 42 found no-where else. Yet, like many such wildernesses, Woodlark Island is now facing major changes: not the least of them is a plan to log half of the island.
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