20061024

 

The Commons Blog: Markets Protecting the Environment

According to the site: "...The Commons Blog is a collaborative web log dedicated to the principle of promoting environmental quality and human dignity and prosperity through markets and property rights. Put more simply, it’s about free markets protecting the environment..." Interesting excerpt from post entitled "Conservation Refugees": Courtesy of Jon Christensen’s blog, “The Uneasy Chair”, I came across a provocative piece, “Conservation Refugees: When Protecting Nature Means Kicking People Out”, by Mark Dowie in Orion. Dowie, while shedding light on some of the human toll of big conservation, confirms that colonialism is not dead – read Bob Nelson’s excellent historical account of the founding of some of the flagship nature preserves in Africa in “Environmental Colonialism: ‘Saving’ Africa from Africans”, here...Dowie states that: “It's no secret that millions of native peoples around the world have been pushed off their land to make room for big oil, big metal, big timber, and big agriculture. But few people realize that the same thing has happened for a much nobler cause: land and wildlife conservation. Today the list of culture-wrecking institutions put forth by tribal leaders on almost every continent includes not only Shell, Texaco, Freeport, and Bechtel, but also more surprising names like Conservation International (CI), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Even the more culturally sensitive World Conservation Union (IUCN) might get a mention.

“In early 2004 a United Nations meeting was convened in New York for the ninth year in a row to push for passage of a resolution protecting the territorial and human rights of indigenous peoples. The UN draft declaration states: 'Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair compensation and, where possible, with the option to return.' During the meeting an indigenous delegate who did not identify herself rose to state that while extractive industries were still a serious threat to their welfare and cultural integrity, their new and biggest enemy was 'conservation.’…“The total area of land now under conservation protection worldwide has doubled since 1990, when the World Parks Commission set a goal of protecting 10 percent of the planet's surface. That goal has been exceeded, with over 12 percent of all land, a total area of 11.75 million square miles, now protected. That's an area greater than the entire land mass of Africa. "During the 1990s the African nation of Chad increased the amount of national land under protection from 0.1 to 9.1 percent. All of that land had been previously inhabited by what are now an estimated six hundred thousand conservation refugees. No other country besides India, which officially admits to 1.6 million, is even counting this growing new class of refugees. World estimates offered by the UN, IUCN, and a few anthropologists range from 5 million to tens of millions. Charles Geisler, a sociologist at Cornell University who has studied displacements in Africa, is certain the number on that continent alone exceeds 14 million.”..

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