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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‘Criminalization’ of local people in Indonesian province rife amid oil palm, coal booms
(07/01/2015) A coalition of local NGOs in Indonesia’s East Kalimantan province is campaigning for an end to the criminalization of residents who oppose plantation and mining projects on their land. The issue was a theme in the government's recently concluded national inquiry into land conflicts affecting indigenous peoples, and last week President Joko Widodo promised to secure the release of indigenous citizens who had been criminalized.
NGOs, activists fret new role for Indonesia's spy agency
(06/29/2015) A mysterious new partnership between Indonesia's spy agency and Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) to boost foreign investment has civil society wary of deepening agrarian conflict in the post-authoritarian country. While little is known about the specifics of the new arrangement, activists point to Indonesia's long history of repression by state security forces to warn that intelligence reports on local sentiment could be manipulated to stymie community opposition to development projects.
New reserve in Peru will protect nearly a million acres of pristine forest
(06/26/2015) A tract of Peruvian rainforest bigger than California's Yosemite National Park is officially more protected, with formal declaration of the Maijuna-Kichwa Regional Conservation Area (RCA) made last week in Lima. Those involved with the reserve's formation hope it will safeguard the area's biodiversity as well as the ancestral homeland and way of life of local indigenous communities.
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