Dowie's Conservation Refugees
By William Walter Kay
The author of Conservation Refugees, Mark Dowie, is the former publisher and editor of Mother Jones magazine. Six books and 200 articles have won him 18 awards. Researching this peer-reviewed M.I.T. Press-published text involved years of globe-trotting and the interviewing of many conservation and indigenous leaders. Dowie was privy to several leaked documents from major conservation organizations. Unusually, this book has no Acknowledgements section and does not mention Dowie’s patrons.
Between 1900 and 1950 about 600 wilderness parks were created worldwide. 400 were added in the 1950s. Today there are 110,000 such parks. 12% of Earth’s land is now conservationist controlled. This is an area larger than Africa. This is an area equal to half of humanity’s farmland.
There is nothing civil about Third World environmental activism. Truckloads of armed men arrive at frontier villages. They torch shacks, wreck wells, rustle livestock, and confiscate firearms. This has happened thousands of times.
The global tally of conservation refugees is somewhere between 5 and 20 million. Dowie estimates 10million. One scholar estimates 14 million conservation refugees in Africa alone. The topic of conservation refugees has been assiduously neglected by academia. Conservation refugees are invisible because visibility raises the price of conservation.
After 1970, in a top-down process, elite enviro-organizations recruited and indoctrinated an auxiliary from the world’s most atavistic indigenous peoples. This puppet sub-movement is now fronting much environmentalist obstruction.
Conservationists are divided between those who advocate complete depopulation of hinterlands and those who want indigenous-environmentalist auxiliaries to govern these areas.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Dowie's Point of View
Conservationism's Recruitment of an Indigenous Auxiliary 1974-2007
Dowie's Point of View
Dowie wrote Conservation Refugees to advance indigenous rights-based conservationism. He concludes:
“…the only remaining solution is for the true and first stewards of nature...to assume protective responsibility for the ecological health of their homeland, and then press for the authority to manage it, solicit funding if necessary, and eventually retake control of the global conservation agenda. There are people and organizations in the developed world with access to power and money that are committed to helping these stewards.”
Dowie dismisses the old guard as:
“...stubborn and entrenched enclose-and-exclude conservationists, who are fortunately dying off faster than the species they yearn to protect.”
Dowie is an activist. He was physically barred from the open dialogue session of the 2004 World Parks Congress.
The book is littered with platitudes about primitive tribes: “the strong, wise and self-confident” Izocenos; “the mysterious and fiercely independent” Kayapo; “the shy and diffident” Ogieks, and the “proud and fierce”Maasai (whom he later depicts as cattle rustlers and child molesters).
Here are samples of Dowie’s over-the-top noble eco-savage romanticism:
- Hundreds of full-time native landscape gardeners pruned trees and weeded meadows in the vast Yosemite Valley for 4,000 years;
- Native peoples controlled their population growth with wild birth-control herbs;
- American Plains Indians killed no more buffalo than they needed (they stampeded herds over cliffs);
- Plains Indians cooked food over geysers (without pots);
- A native seer foretold a storm and rockslide in Yosemite, which was divine retribution for evicting natives from the park.
Dowie insists primitive people must not be measured on the same economic scale as regular poor people because: “in the forest they had meat, roots, fruit, and a balanced diet.” He chastises conservationists who “introduce the natives to the money economy.”
Dowie favours Traditional Environmental Knowledge over Western-utilitarian science because the latter expresses the dominion-over-nature world-view of colonists and industrialists. Utilitarian sciences presume resources are limitless; hence, are incompatible with sustainability.
Dowie subscribes to the usual alchemic ecologisms like global warming and the alleged unique ability of wilderness alone to summon rain from the heavens and pack soil into life-sustaining forms.
Dowie thinks: “the entire planet seems poised to tip into ecological chaos.” He views: “the entire planet as a holistic system endangered by industrial practises.”
Dowie bemoans our “era of unrestrained profiteering, as mega-corporations plunder the planet’s resources with reckless abandon.”
Loggers, cash-crop farmers, and ranchers are called “undesirables.” Transnational corporations are: “bad guys,” “extractive corporados,” or simply “The Devil.”
Dowie praises Marcus Colchester, Oxford zoologist-cum-anthropologist, who argues:
“In an increasingly globalized and liberalized world conservation cannot rely on beleaguered state bureaucracies to defend isolated protected areas of high biodiversity …Protected areas need to be implanted within larger managed landscapes occupied by human beings who also care about the environment...”
The humans who care about the environment are, of course, indigenous. The only thing that can stop nation-states from abrogating conservation agreements is the political will of indigenous people.
Dowie is hostile to colonial nations. The indigenous peoples he champions self-describe as “nations.” They would draw a different map of the world than the ones in atlases. The indigenous self-determination he advocates would shatter 74 nation-states (Canada, USA, Australia, India, Brazil etc.) into thousands of micro-states.
Dowie denounces conservationists for hiding behind nation-states’ reluctance to recognize indigenous land claims. “National sovereignty” is just an excuse for conservationists who turn a blind eye when indigenous claims are ignored.
Central to conservationism’s 150-year-old strategy is the wilderness park.
Yellowstone National Park was founded in 1872. Australia’s Royal National Park followed in 1879. Canada’s Banff was founded in 1887. New Zealand’s Tongarivo followed in 1894.
Between 1900 and 1950 about 600 such parks were created worldwide. 400 were added in the 1950s. Today there are 110,000.
12% of Earth’s surface, 11.8 million square miles (19 million square kilometres) is under conservation control. This is an area larger than Africa. This is an area equal to half of humanity’s farmland.
The major conservation non-government organizations (NGOs) are: International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Conservation International (CI), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). (Dowie gives honourable mention to Fauna & Flora International and Birdlife International.)
Gland, Switzerland-based IUCN (est. 1948) is an assembly of hundreds of government agencies; conservation NGOs; and thousands of scientists, lawyers, professors, and corporate executives.
The US-based Ecologists’ Union took on the name TNC in 1950. Rapid growth followed the securing of Ford Foundation funding in 1965. TNC soon expanded to all 50 states. TNC became active in South America in the 1970s and then went global.
In 1987 a TNC faction broke away to form CI. They were joined by a WWF-US faction in 1989. By 2005 CI had 800 employees and annual revenues of $144 million. On CI’s board were: Harrison Ford, Queen Noor of Jordan, Lewis Colemen (Dream Works), Barry Diller (IAC), Rob Walton (Wal-Mart), James Wolfensohn (World Bank President), Gordon Moore (Intel), and Botswana’s President Khama.
Gland, Switzerland-based WWF was launched in 1961. Prince Phillip headed WWF’s British chapter. Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands was WWF-International President. Early WWF principals were: Robert McNamara, Agha Abedi, Lew Wasserman, Augie Busch, Lord Kagan, Daniel Ludwig, Nelson Bunker Hunt, and Henry Ford II.
Groundwork for WWF began in 1960 with Sir Julian Huxley’s emotive series in The Observer celebrating African mammals. WWF’s actual launch coincided with a front page story in the London Daily Mirror featuring a photo of a rhino and her calf under the headline “DOOMED to Disappear from the Face of the Earth due to Man’s FOLLY, GREED and NEGLECT.” Days later WWF had 60,000 pounds in the bank. Central to WWF’s strategy is inculcating in children a deep love for charismatic wild animals.
WWF was originally a fundraiser for IUCN. In the early 1980s, with a million supporters and a $10 million Nature Trust created by Prince Bernhard, WWF opened its own offices. WWF now has offices in 130 countries.
African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) was founded by big game hunter Russell Train and his socialite friends in 1961. AWF’s core idea is that whites must prevent blacks from destroying Africa. AWF relies on donations from a few wealthy individuals.
Conservation NGOs have turfs. Wildlife Conservation Society (formerly New York Zoological Society) focuses on South America’s Gran Chaco and Africa’s Congo Basin. CI has Suriname and Guyana. TNC prevails in Nicaragua. WWF-US transferred Tanzania to WWF-International, which until recently was the driving force in Cameroon, Gabon, and Nigeria. WCS is also active in Gabon.
Until the 1980s conservationist propaganda stressed charismatic megafauna: lions, elephants, pandas, etc. Biodiversity (biological diversity) eclipsed charismatic species preservation as conservationism’s main rationale. Biodiversity was coined at a 1986 National Academy of Sciences/Smithsonian Institution conference. E.O. Wilson chaired the conference and edited the proceedings into a book: Biodiversity.
After 1990 conservation NGOs grew exponentially. During this time, conservation funding shifted from philanthropic foundations to governments, multilateral development banks, and UN agencies.
(Dowie’s account of conservation funding is woefully dated, truncated, and convoluted.)
In 1990 1% of WWF revenues came from multilateral banks. By 2000 that portion was 24%. Government and multilateral bank funding often accounts for 80% of WWF project budgets. The WWF-World Bank joint venture, Global Forest Alliance, operates in 30 countries.
Between 1991 and 2001 WWF received 45% of USAID’s $270 million conservation expenditures. The rest of this money went to: TNC (14%), AWF (8%), World Resources Institute (7%), CI (6%), and WCS (4%).
Circa 2004, international non-philanthropic conservation funding totalled about $2 billion a year. Most of this money came via the opaque World Bank-Global Environmental Facility (WB-GEF) cluster of UN agencies and multilateral banks. USAID and the EC were each contributing about $100 million a year. Other governments were cumulatively contributing hundreds of millions of dollars.
Sovereign-debt-for-nature swaps are among the many concoctions deployed by the WB-GEF network. GEF funds large projects dealing with biodiversity, climate, international waters, and the ozone layer. Between 1991 and 2001 GEF spent $1 billion on protected area management. As with other aid agencies, GEF tends not to make direct grants to conservation NGOs but rather allows NGOs to draw operating expenses from more comprehensive project envelopes.
A dozen NGOs absorb 70% of international conservation funding. The 30% is scattered among thousands of local NGOs; many of them created by large NGOs on the insistence of funders.
CI’s Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund received $150 million from: GEF, the Japanese government, and the MacArthur Foundation. 50% of funds are supposed to be re-granted to local NGOs. In practice 20% is.
Conservationism's Recruitment of an Indigenous Auxiliary 1974-2007
“Indigenous peoples” are ‘peoples’ who occupied an area before this area was absorbed into the nation-state within which it now exists. The world’s 370 million indigenous peoples consist of 4,500 tribal groupings scattered across 74 countries.
Dowie’s main myth-making effort is encapsulated thusly:
“Indigenous people have somehow managed during the last 75 years to organize one of the most impressive worldwide social movements in human history.”
Despite speaking 1,000 dialects; despite being illiterate, poor, and without communications infrastructure, indigenous peoples somehow organized themselves into a global movement.
The reality Dowie fails to conceal is that this movement mobilization was not organized by indigenous people; rather, it was a top-down process whereby enviro-organizations recruited and indoctrinated an indigenous auxiliary, a puppet sub-movement.
The “75 years” acorn derives from the legendary Mohawk Chief Deskaheh’s appeal to the League of Nations in 1923.
(“Deskaheh,” a.k.a. Levi General, a man of Scottish-Irish-Iroquois extraction, was not the Mohawk’s Chief. He was arbitrarily named “Deskaheh” (hereditary chief) by the matron of the tiny Young Bear clan. The only test of his popularity within the Mohawk Six Nations was an election where he came in third with 107 votes. Due to his fluency in English and his outspoken separatism, General, against the wishes of many Mohawks, became the front man for a fruitless year-long effort to petition the League of Nations, financed by a Swiss group: International Bureau for Indigenous Defense.) (1)
Dowie then fast-forwards to the October 31, 1975 conference that launched the World Council of Indigenous Peoples (WCIP).
(This conference was three years in the making. The front man, Canadian aboriginal George Manuel, was a federal government civil servant and confidant of Indian Affairs Minister Jean Chretien. The conference was financed and organized by: the governments of Canada, Norway, and Denmark; and by the World Council of Churches, International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs, and UN Association of Denmark. WCIP’s precursor group was granted UN Observer Status before WCIP’s launch. The conference, held in Port Alberni, Canada, summoned 250 indigenous reps and 225 observers, media people, and government bureaucrats. The indigenous reps paraded in ceremonial garb! The WCIP, with Manuel as chair, lasted 20 years until, plagued with internal bickering, it dissolved.) (2)
His real chronology begins around 1970 when the IUCN began facilitating a token indigenous representation at their conventions.
In 1975 IUCN’s ‘Kinshasa Resolution’ recognized:
“…the value and importance of traditional ways of life and the skills of the people which enable them to live in harmony with their environment...”
“...governments maintain and encourage traditional methods of living”;
“...educational systems be orientated to emphasize environmental and ecological principles and conservation objectives derived from local cultures and traditions and that these principles and objectives be given wide publicity.”
The 1982 World National Parks Congress affirmed the rights of traditional societies to: “social, economic, cultural and spiritual self-determination.” Political self-determination was excluded because national governments regarded this as a prelude to secession. Delegates championed co-management arrangements between traditional peoples and park authorities.
A 1982 World Bank manual promised support for: “ethnic groups typically with stable, low energy, sustained yield economic systems as exemplified by hunter-gatherers, shifting and semi-permanent farmers.”
Canada’s 1982 constitution recognized First Nations rights.
A 1983 UN Human Rights Commission special meeting in Geneva on indigenous peoples instigated a process whereby indigenous rights activists could lobby UN organizations.
The 1984 World Congress on Protected Areas convention opened with a speech from the IUCN President on how enhancing indigenous rights benefited conservationism.
In 1987 the Canadian Government dropped its eviction policy and allowed seven indigenous villages to remain in a new park. 1988 amendments to Canada’s National Parks Act permitted native trapping and selective logging.
1988 witnessed the first International Congress of Ethnobiology (Belem, Brazil). 600 delegates from 35 countries and 16 indigenous organizations founded the International Society of Ethnobiology. They declared: “indigenous peoples have been stewards of 99% of the world’s resources”
“...mechanisms be established by which indigenous specialists are recognised as proper authorities and are consulted in all programs affecting them, their resources and their environments...”
and resolved to:
...study the ways that indigenous and rural populations…guarantee the preservation of vital biological and cultural diversity.” (emphasis added)
The 1990 Iquitos Summit (Peru) attracted: Conservation International, WWF, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, National Wildlife Federation, Rainforest Action Network, World Resources Institute, and indigenous activists. The Summiteers christened the Amazonian Indigenous-Environmental Alliance and declared:
“…the recognition of territories for indigenous peoples, to develop programs of management and conservation, is an essential alternative for the future of the Amazon…”
“…we must look for adequate mechanisms to reach this objective, which include ways to channel international, technical and financial resources.”
“We recognize the need for actions of diffusion, studies or projects to advance the territorial and societal rights of the indigenous peoples.” (emphasis added)
Heading the call for studies favourable to indigenous-based conservationism were:
UN Research Institute for Social Development, International for Environment and Development, Institute of Development Studies at Sussex, Holistic Management International, US Forest Service, and Institute de Recherche pour le Development et al.
Their studies show: a) indigenous disturbances mimic natural disturbances, b) nomadic grazing reverses desertification and prevents grasslands from being overrun by bush, c) slash and burn agriculture, (renamed “swidden agriculture”) prevents deforestation and soil erosion, d) indigenous conservation rule-breaking (poaching, logging and arson) enhance biodiversity, e) traditional indigenous practices are model conservation practices, etc.
In 1992 the Australian High Court, in Eddie Mabo v. Queensland,affirmed Aboriginal land title.
In 1992 IUCN released Indigenous and Traditional Peoples and Protected Areas and softened its definition of “park” to tolerate traditional indigenous land uses. IUCN’s World Congress on National Parks recognized Traditional Environmental Knowledge (TEK).
The 1992 Earth Summit (Rio) recognised indigenous peoples as a Major Group entitled to participate in sustainable development. The Summit’s Agenda 21 stresses indigenous peoples’ vital role in environmental management is based on their traditional knowledge and practices. Governments are instructed to enable indigenous participation and to incorporate TEK into environmental policy.
In 1992 the IUCN-drafted Convention on Biological Diversity treaty (CBD) was signed by 156 states. (CBD is managed by UNEP and funded through GEF.) CBD’s TEK section requires signatories to:
“…maintain knowledge, innovation and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.”
(Dowie lauds TEK as an ancient science transmitted through countless generations; a spiritual knowhow encoded in tribal culture. 4,500 indigenous groups have suspiciously similar nature-worshipping holistic religions. This monocultural animism is both “the heart of traditionalism” and a modern legal doctrine. Integrating TEK into environmental assessments is not about transferring information; it is about transferring power – to unelected New Age shamans.)
The UN declared 1993 the International Year of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
A 1993 GEF memo stipulated future projects make: “allowance or mitigation for hunting and other resource extraction by indigenous peoples in protected areas.”
In 1993 nine Guyanese tribes formed the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA). APA outposts were linked via radio to a Georgetown HQ to keep constant pressure on Guyana’s government.
In 1993 indigenous people flooded Ecuador’s cities and brought the economy to a standstill until they received recognition of their land claims.
1994 witnessed the Chiapas uprising in Mexico.
In 1994 the UN proclaimed the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
Indigenous issues were debated at the 1996 First World Conservation Congress (Montreal). Indigenous reps caucused separately to prepare resolutions voted on by the Plenary. Many conservationists argued it was impossible to protect certain areas without evictions, and they trashed the myth of the eco-friendly native. Indigenous reps complained conservationism restricted their economic opportunities and that too many projects were micro-managed by conservation NGOs. The Congress recognized indigenous rights to land and resources.
In 1996 CBD accepted the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity as a member, and the first draft of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was completed.
In 1996 WWF’s Indigenous Peoples and Conservation: Statement of Principles noted that the 20% of Earth inhabited by indigenous peoples contained most of the remaining areas of high natural value. WWF boasted of having long worked with indigenous communities (Canada’s Inuit, Panama’s Kuna) and referenced two earlier indigenous-sensitive WWF publications. The document affirmed indigenous lands rights including the right to decide technological issues thereon. WWF welcomed partnerships with indigenous peoples and promised to pressure governments on their behalf. WWF undertook to oppose development projects not consented to by indigenous communities and that threatened the environment.
After 1996 there was an explosion of grant requests to foundations and development banks using the buzzwords: “community-based resource management,” “community-based conservation,” and “integrated conservation and development.” Funding for eco-friendly businesses became available from UNDP, USAID, and multilateral development banks.
After 1996 small NGOs began conferencing in out-of-the-way places to design the new indigenous-conservation paradigm. In the vanguard were:
International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs, Inter-Ethnic Association of the Development of the Peruvian Amazon, Asian Indigenous People’s Pact, Partners of Community Organizations, Community of Autonomous Rwandans, Cultural Survival, International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity, Native Lands, Survival International, Eco Terra, International Forum on Indigenous Mapping, World Rainforest Movement, Forest People’s Programme, First Peoples Worldwide, International Land Coalition, Forest People of the Congo, Earthrights International, Four Directions Council, Rainforest Foundation et al.
After 1996 the global indigenous rights movement became sophisticated in its use of international law.
In 1998 WWF completed its Global 200 inventory of Earth’s biodiversity hot-spots. 80% were indigenous-occupied.
In 1999-2000 IUCN endorsed Principles and Guidelines on Indigenous Peoples and Protected Areas, and their World Commission on Protected Areas passed resolutions supporting indigenous rights to “sustainable, traditional use.”
In 2000 Colombia’s U’wa tribe successfully demonstrated against Occidental Petroleum.
The 2001 Dana Declaration on Mobile Peoples and Conservation was approved at a meeting of sociologists, naturalists, and NGOs at Jordon’s Dana Nature Reserve.
In 2003 the UN established a Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
At the 2003 World Parks Congress, disputes erupted between conservationists and reps from 120 (IUCN-aided) indigenous organizations. (For the first time nomads were represented.) A pre-conference bulletin from World Rainforest Movement set the tone:
“No more stitch ups with the corporations that are driving the world to ruin. No more colonial deals trading other peoples’ territories and destinies for land use plans, which include parks, logging, oil-pipelines and plantations.”
Eleven of 32 resolutions dealt with indigenous issues. The Congress lauded indigenous peoples’ contribution to conservation and recommended governmental, inter-governmental, and non-governmental organizations: a) guarantee indigenous rights to ancestral territories, b) require park managers support indigenous initiatives, c) utilize TEK, and d) foster indigenous-managed parks.
The 2003 World Trade Organization talks in Cancun were besieged by environmental-indigenous protests against unregulated markets. The talks broke down. In the same month the World Forestry Congress in Quebec City was besieged by environmental-indigenous protestors assailing industrial forestry and promoting “community forest management.”
In 2004 CBD’s Seventh Conference welcomed indigenous reps. After gruelling debate, CBD passed the pro-indigenous “Programme of Work on Protected Areas.”
In 2004 the Second Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples (Quito) was attended by 800 delegates from 64 “indigenous nations” from 25 countries.
At the 2004 World Parks Congress, 500 native people somehow “found the resources” to travel to Bangkok to rub shoulders with 6,000 conservationists.
In 2004, at a two-week well-catered World Wilderness Congress in Anchorage, Alaska, organizer Vance Martin (Wild Foundation President) boasted his Congresses were the first to promote TEK. He added:
“…we will do everything we can to ensure that indigenous groups are full partners at the table during the congress and that their knowledge and centuries old expertise as land stewards is recognized.”
Thirty carefully selected indigenous reps from five continents participated in this Congress’s native sub-committee. While CI’s Peter Seligmann gave rousing speeches to political and corporate leaders upstairs, the native sub-committee met in a windowless room in the convention centre basement. Dowie was the only white guy in the room.
In 2007 the UN Human Rights Commission sent the final draft of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to the UN General Assembly who approved it: 140 in favour, 11 abstentions, and 4 opposed (USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand).
In 1877 some Shoshone Indians were evicted from Yellowstone. Since 1877 the global tally of conservation refugees has risen to somewhere between 5 and 20 million. Dowie estimates “10 million or so.” One scholar estimates 14 million conservation refugees in Africa alone.
Conservation refugees are invisible because visibility would raise the price of conservation. Only India and Chad bother to count them. India admits to 100,000 – a gross underestimation. Conservation refugees were assiduously neglected by academia until 2004.
In 1860 the Boston Evening Transcript ran a blistering six-part series on the horrible homesteads blighting Yosemite Valley. Soon after, Frederick Olmsted, designer of New York City’s Central Park, travelled west dreaming of a novel “wild park.” Supporting him were rail companies dreaming of a tourist attraction. They lobbied President Lincoln into ceding Yosemite Valley to California for resort purposes in 1864. Olmstead chaired the Yosemite Park Commission.
The era’s zeitgeist is illustrated by George Marsh’s bestselling Man and Nature (1864) which argued the destruction of Nature threatened human survival. Both John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt read Marsh.
After the Sierra Club’s 1892 launch, its leader, Muir, pressed Roosevelt into forming a Yosemite National Park. Muir referred to Yosemite’s Indians (who were not indigenous) as “hideous diggers.” (Sierra Club was “whites only” until the 1920s.) Yosemite’s Indian village was basically a human zoo. In 1969 the Indians were ushered out. Their shacks were used for a fire drill.
Conservationism is predicated on the myth of unaltered wilderness. The US Wilderness Act (1964) defines wilderness as: “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” In this definition, Man excludes Indigenous Man who definitely trammeled the wilderness.
Many conservationists consider humans and wilderness inherently incompatible. They contend that even minimal human disturbances lead inexorably to biodiversity decline.
Conservationists site examples of indigenous nature-abuse. After acquiring land title, Paraguay’s Ache foragers, hitherto exemplary eco-stewards, sold their old-growth hardwoods. Within months the trees were gone and so was the money. In 2003 Cameroonian indigenous people, who had been evicted from two parks, returned to plunder these parks’ resources. Dowie watched aghast as a Quichua Indian sold his only mahogany tree to a logger for $15.
Harvard-educated biologist, John Terborgh, preaches enviro-science at Duke U and directs their Center for Tropical Conservation. His Requiem for Nature warns of “biological Armageddon.” Oftenbrandedan“ecofascist,” Terborgh proposes a UN biodiversity army:
“If local park guards are too weak or too subject to corruption and political influence to carry out their duties effectively internationally sponsored guards could be called in to help. Active protection of parks requires a top-down approach...”
To Terbough the “eco-savage” is a myth. Even low-impact natives demolish biodiversity once their populations increase and they acquire trucks, guns, and chainsaws.
Ecologist John Oates, an anthropology prof at New York’s Hunter College, did 30 years of field work in Africa and India. He has no faith in indigenous peoples as biodiversity protectors. He notes indigenous tribes are tyrannical, not the idyllic communities portrayed by their supporters. Oates wants conservation refugee camps sited as far as possible from parks.
Colorado State U’s Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Holmes Rolston III, believes:
“…if significant natural values are at stake, including extinctions of species, then one ought not always to feed people first, but rather one ought sometimes to save nature.”
Rolston points to Nepal’s Royal Chitwan National Park where pre-1950 it was too malarious for humans and tigers flourished. DDT spraying allowed the human population to grow from 36,000 to 8.6 million between 1950 and 1991. Authorities blocked settlements in the park, but pressure on the park’s resources has grown severe. “I put tigers first” spouts Rolston.
British elephantologist Clive Spinage calls community conservationists “Marxists:”
“…who state that local communities should be in a better position to assess what is good for them than American biologists, British conservationists, and German and Scandinavian foresters or members of the European aristocracies (which) can only be construed as a snide attack on former Presidents of the Worldwide Fund for Nature.”
Dowie dubs Bernhard Grizmek:
“Adolph Hitler’s director of the Frankfurt Zoo and if not the ‘father of African conservation’ certainly one of its forefathers.”
Grizmek got on well with Uganda’s monster-in-chief Idi Amin, noting:
“It can be easier to work with a dictator on these matters of conservation than a democracy.”
“A national park must remain a primordial wilderness to be effective. No men, not even native ones, should live inside its borders.”
The Africa-in-crisis alarmism perennially emanating from conservationists dates to Grizmek’s documentaries and books like his bestselling Serengeti Shall Not Die (1959).
Tanzania’s 14,700 square-kilometre Serengeti National Park is Africa’s largest wildlife refuge. Kenya’s Serengeti Reserve dates to 1948. Inhabitants were evicted from both these “whites only” parks. As a compromise, the British gave 50,000 Maasai herders grazing rights in the 8,200 square-kilometre Ngorongro Conservation Area.
In the early 1970s Grizmek and the Frankfurt Zoological Society began campaigning for a revocation of the Ngorongro compromise. In 1974 a paramilitary force, without warning or explanation, evicted Ngorongro’s inhabitants. Their possessions were trucked outside the park and dumped by the side of the road. No arrangements were made for resettlement.
When Tanzania’s Mkomazi Reserve was gazetted in 1951, a few herders and farmers were allowed to stay. By 1985 the herders had 100,000 cattle. First the farmers were evicted. They were given land nearby, but after elephants and other beasts ranged outside the unfenced reserve and destroyed their crops, they drifted to cities. By 1988 all herders were evicted.
48,000 refugees live along the Mkomazi Reserve perimeter. The tourist industry employs some as porters and eco-lodge staff. Most are farm hands, hustlers, and prostitutes. Alcoholism is rampant. The Fitzjohn/Adamson African Wildlife Preservation Trusts stepped in with roads, airstrips, and imported rhinos.
(Adamson and Fitzjohn earned fame with their film Born Free, the tale of a lion pride Adamson befriended. Their Trusts are endorsed by Sylvester Stallone and Clint Eastwood. With funding from Cartier, Tiffany’s, and BP, the Trusts produced the sequel, To Walk with Lions.)
27% of Tanzania is now off-limits to human habitation.
Kenya boasts 50 national parks. Amboseli National Park (ANP) dates to the early 20th century. In 1947 the colonial governor’s grazing restrictions in the ANP prompted open confrontations. Maasai warriors responded to a 1971 hunting ban by leaving carcasses of speared leopards near tourist camps. When negotiations broke down in 1974, the Maasai re-invaded the park.
Eventually WCS provided the Maasai with compensation and built a water pipeline to a camp outside the ANP. While the water line soon failed, the Maasai grudgingly began to respect park authority. Some Maasai tried farming, but rampaging buffalo and elephants rendered this precarious. ANP’s elephant population exploded. Even elephantophiles called for a cull. In 2005 the Kenyan government shocked conservationists by de-gazetting the ANP.
After Kenya’s Mau Forest Park was gazetted in 1957, 60,000 people, many from the Ogiek tribe, were evicted. Thousands of homes and 100 schools were razed. In one incident, teachers and students were ordered from a school, which was burned before their eyes.
Post-colonial Kenyan governments drove Ogieks from three forests. In 2005 the High Court ordered an end to evictions. Defiantly, Kenya’s Land Minister demanded the evictions continue. He claimed full cabinet support; however, Environment Minister Wangari Maathai (Nobel Prize winner) argued the Ogiek’s exceptional lifeways qualified them to return to the forests. Policy reversed again in 2005 when President Kibaki handed out deeds to Ogieks. Conservationists, still seething about his de-gazetting of the ANP, were outraged.
Pygmies have been evicted from parks in ten countries. (The many tribes called “Pygmies” have a similar language, one feature of which is the prefix “Ba” meaning “people.”)
In the 1930s Uganda’s government began creating parks such as the 80,000 acre Bwindi, home to several Batwa Pygmy villages. When Bwindi was declared a World Natural Heritage Site in 1994, a park bureaucracy was created with GEF funds. After the bureaucrats accused them of eating gorillas, 1,700 Batwa got booted from Bwindi. The Batwa got 326 acres. Their $4 million compensation fund got “lost.”
Even Batwa with forage licences risk being shot by Bwindi eco-guards. Batwa villages are layered in human waste. There have no plates, utensils, or beds. Most survive by begging.
Park evictions occurred across Uganda. Dowie relays eye-witness accounts:
“It was early in the morning. I heard people around my house. I looked through the door and saw men in uniforms with guns. One of them forced open the door of our house and started shouting that we had to immediately leave the park because it was not our land.”
“I didn’t know anything was happening until the police ran into my compound. They all had guns. They shouted at me to run… I had eight children with me – but we just ran off in all directions… I had thirty-one cows… twenty cows were killed and the rest taken. They burned everything.”
Congo’s 2,000 square mile Nouable-Ndoki National Park (NNNP) forms the eastern portion of the contiguous Tri-National Park. WCS raises $1 million a year for NNNP management and arranges tours for US Congressmen. USAID and GEF have each contributed $3 million. Swiss, Japanese, and French governments also contribute. 4,000 Baka Pygmies were evicted from NNNP. A sweeping 2005 hunting ban imposed at WCS’s behest led one Pygmy to conclude:
“We have the feeling that the people who work for wildlife conservation have decided to kill us. They ransack our huts and even examine the meat in our cooking pots.”
Part of the Congo Basin jungle (the world’s second largest) lies within Gabon.
In August 2002 WCS’s Michael Fay showed Gabon’s kleptocrat-in-chief, Omar Bongo, a virtual map of a future Gabon with 13 green patches. The proposed national parks covered 7.5 million acres; 10% of Gabon. Fay promised money. Bongo ordered the parks gazetted.
Fay was assisted by Gabon’s registered foreign agent, David Barron, a man well-connected to the US State Dept. Barron and Fay are Wilderness Leadership Foundation trustees.
The Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) has reps from dozens of governments, UN agencies, and NGOs. CBFP was christened in September 2002 by US Secretary of State Colin Powell at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. Powell committed $53 million of USAID funds to CBFP before jetting to Gabon to attend Bongo’s lavish park inauguration.
(Separately, in 2002, WWF took over Gabon’s portion of the Tri-National Park. GEF set aside $10 million for this endeavor.)
In 2003 Fay testified about the Congo Basin initiative to the House International Relations Subcommittee on Africa:
“We have an historic opportunity here to create what will be one of the world’s most important national park systems covering 25 million acres... We have an opportunity to shift how entire landscapes are developed…”
WCS teaches ecology in village schools near the parks. WWF trains eco-guards and eco-guides.
Official maps show no one living in the parks; thousands did. Bongo promised to resettle 15,000 Pygmies – with $450,000.
Botswana’s President Khama is a CI board member. While vice president, he demarked 17% of Botswana’s territory into national parkland. Another 34% is zoned Wilderness Management Area.
Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR, the size of Wales) was created in 1961 by colonial authorities to protect San Bushmen. Government harassment of CKGR’s San began in 1986. Evictions began in 1997. Villages were burned and wells destroyed. Most San were relocated to places like New Xade – a fetid, disease-ridden, fenced-in camp where 1,500 San spend their days building pyramids with beer cans.
In 2004 the NGO, First People of Kalahari, sued Botswana. (The NGO’s illiterate leader received the Right Livelihood Award from Sweden’s Parliament.) In 2006 Botswana’s High Court ruled the San’s eviction was unconstitutional. A similar suit ended in a minor victory for the Mala tribe; giving them some land, cash, and limited resource rights. The only hope Bushmen have of attaining title is through purchase by an NGO.
African Parks Foundation (APF) is a Dutch firm founded by retail and oil magnate Paul van Vlissingen and supported by Rob Walton, USAID, and CI. APF manages parks in six African countries.
APF took over Ethiopia’s Nech Sar Park in 2005. APF wanted nothing to do with evictions, but it was understood the park’s inhabitants would be gone before APF arrived. 1,000 Kose families were resettled eight miles outside the park. Another tribe, the Guji, refused to leave. In early 2005 armed men torched 463 Guji houses. No compensation was paid.
In 2005 APF signed another contract with Ethiopia to manage the 1,500 square mile Omo National Park. (ONP was established in 1966 on the recommendation of UNESCO boss Sir Julian Huxley.) To enhance ecotourism APF planned to import rhinos from a South African rhino ranch (white rhino calves cost $7,000; black ones go for $21,000).
Omo Valley is home to 36,000 tribal people of whom 8,000 are Mursi. The contract APF drafted for illiterate Muris elders to thumbprint gave APF complete access to the park. Mursi could graze but not hunt and were banned from clearing land along the flood plain, which effectively ended their rotational farming. APF gave the Mursi $5,000 (65 cents each) from which deductions were made for any animal killed ($300 for a zebra). Mursi elders denied consenting to any of this.
In December 2007 APF pulled out of Ethiopia complaining “ethnic groups” were refusing to curtail “unsustainable” practices.
Karens occupy 75,000 villages across Thailand. Karens migrated from China centuries ago.
Stimulated by GEF money, the Thai government has been creating parks as fast as their Royal Forest Department (RFD) can map them. In 1999 there were few parks. By 2004 138 parks covered 25,000 square kilometres. Many parks are occupied by Karens.
Dowie tells the tale of one Karen village. In early 2004, at the behest of “some green group,” RFD men entered the village and demolished a few buildings. In June, amidst a racist Karen-bashing campaign orchestrated by a Buddhist monastery, and after the Thai cabinet resolved to clear ecologically sensitive areas, according to one villager:
“They just appeared one day, out of nowhere, showing their guns and telling us that we were now living in a national park. That was the first we knew of it. Our own guns were confiscated…”
This occurred months before Thailand hosted the World Conservation Congress. At plenaries packed with 6,000 conservation bureaucrats, speaker after speaker praised Thai Queen Sirikit and her Environment Minister, who came surrounded by an RFD entourage.
India has created 580 national parks since independence (1947). 9% of India is under protection. In addition, the Forest Conservation Act (1980) froze 22% of India’s land for possible conservation. The Forest Conservation Act and Wildlife Protection Act (1972), fortified by WWF litigation, nurture what may become the largest eviction of indigenous peoples in any one country.
Since the 1970s India has seen 35 major relocations of Adivasis (“original inhabitants”). Five hundred villages with 300,000 to 600,000 occupants were resettled for habitat protection. In 2003, 8,000 Adivasis and low caste farmers in Madhya Pradesh were summarily moved from rich farmland to scrubland to make a sanctuary for six lions.
In 1993 WWF sued to compel enforcement of the Wildlife Protection Act. In 1997 India’s Supreme Court ordered state governments to complete resettlements within one year. Conflict between forest officers and locals escalated. Villagers poisoned wildlife to eliminate parks’ raison d’etre. In Madhya Pradesh 20,000 Adivasi protested in front of the legislature. A 2005 report commissioned by India’s PM described the situation as: “truly a war within, imploding inside reserves and taking everything in its wake.”
In 2005, a Bill came before parliament promising tenure rights to 68 million Adivasis and low caste farmers. The Bill was severely criticised by the Environment Minister and by apoplectic conservationists who claimed it would irreparably damage ecosystems. A media furore suddenly arose concerning the Bengal Tiger. The “tiger crisis” prompted sanctuary proposals across India. 325,000 Adivasi lived in proposed tiger sanctuaries. Conservationists were adamant tigers could only survive “in large undisturbed, inviolate landscapes.”
In May 2005 the Indian cabinet dropped the Bill. A substitute, the Forest Rights Act, passed in December 2006. Adivasis and their supporters regard the Forest Rights Act as a partial triumph. The Act was hit with constitutional challenges filed by conservation NGOs.
The idea of native-policed wild zones dates to George Catlin, a forefather of the US national park system. In the 1830s Catlin envisioned “Indian Parks” ruled by bow-bearing braves galloping bare-back o’er the bald prairie.
Modern “Indian Parks” are called: Indigenous Protection Areas (IPAs), Community Conservation Areas (CCAs), or Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs). Globally, yet-to-be-gazetted IPAs, CCAs, and LMMAs cover an area equal to the area currently under conservationist control.
The term “IPA” was coined by Australia’s Homeland Movement. Their first IPA was formed in 1998; several followed. Australia’s government requires IPAs to have conservation plans. They are still debating land title. The government fears granting title will fuel demands for self-determination.
IPAs are spreading across the planet. IPAs teem with ecologists and biologists.
On the Philippine Island of Coron, the Tagbanwa tribe was granted a “Community Forest Stewardship Agreement” in the 1980s.
Control over Colombia’s 4 million acre Mataven Forest has been transferred to a council representing six indigenous tribes. In 2002 Colombia transferred another vast area (Alto Fraqua-Indiwasi National Park) to the Inganos tribe.
Panama’s Kuna tribe established an IPA across the path of a proposed, now cancelled, highway. Kuna assume management responsibility for their ‘biosphere reserve.’ Conservation biologists are welcome.
In India, a Naga community, supported by India’s Forest Department, undertook a conservation initiative. The Forest Department asked the Naga council to surrender the reserve in exchange for funding. They refused. (India’s one million Nagas, who are of Sino-Tibetan origin, boast the world’s oldest separatist insurrection.)
The chief of Bolivia’s Izocenos tribe met with WCS in 1991. In 1993 WCS advanced seed money toward a USAID-funded IPA inside Bolivia’s Gran Chaco region. In 1995, after the Kaa-Iya National Park became official, USAID disbursed funds for training Izoceno park rangers and parabiologists. This 34,400 square kilometre park is inhabited by 10,000 Izocenos.
The most-praised IPA is Brazil’s 28 million acre Area Indigena Kayapo (AIK). This Austria-size park is home to 7,000 Kayapos.
Brazil’s 1988 constitution acknowledged indigenous land rights – setting the stage for ‘Indian-only’ parks. Legalities aside, Kayapos regard themselves as AIK’s owners. Until recently, Kayapo warriors routinely murdered ranchers and prospectors found trespassing on their territory. This earned them conservationists’ respect.
At the same time, Kayapo leaders negotiated secret deals with miners and loggers and spent the bribes on townhouses, airplanes, and mistresses. Payakan, the legendary eco-warrior, was rumoured to be living this lifestyle. The take from the mahogany trade in 1988 was $33 million.
In 1988 Payakan and another chief were invited to a Miami conservationist meeting about a proposed $11 billion, World Bank-funded hydro-dam near AIK. The Chiefs learned of the dam at Miami and left determined to stop it. They were whisked to Washington, DC where a prominent ethno-ecologist shopped them around the Treasury Department, Senate Appropriations Committee, and World Bank. These introductions made headlines in Brazil. Upon return, the Chiefs were detained. Upon release, they did Europe.
A 1989 rally near the proposed dam site drew: a) about 600 Kayapos, b) British pop tart, Sting, who had adopted the Kayapo as his Cause, and c) over 400 journalists, filmmakers, and ENGO execs. Pressure became so great the World Bank shelved the hydro-dam project.
In 1992 ecologist Barbara Zimmerman (funded by the Suzuki Foundation and CI) designed AIK’s Pinkaiti Reserve and Ecological Station. CI built 22 guard posts around the Reserve and trained Kayapo eco-guards. CI provided motorboats, fuel, GPS systems, and radios for each post. Zimmerman and Payakan travel far and wide sharing their story of how they keep extractive industries at bay.
CI publications extol Kayapos. Large photos of Kayopo warriors adorn CI info booths at conservation conferences. CI picked a Kayapo chief to be the first indigenous rep to adorn a major ENGO board.
Kayapo religion defines Kayapos as rainforest stewards. Kayapo newborns are named after ecologists.
It is illegal to produce a map without a permit in Indonesia or to own a topographical map without a permit in India. Chad and Cameroon have de-mapped vast areas. Maps are weapons.
Peter Poole knows how to craft maps for native land claim purposes. In the 1970s he pioneered “tenure mapping” – a skill first used to define northern Canada’s vast semi-autonomous Nunavut region. Poole’s maps compelled respect for treaties in Suriname. In 1994, when Guyana’s President questioned tribal land claims, Poole rushed to the natives’ defence. They still use his maps.
In the 1990s Mac Chapin’s Washington, DC-based NGO, Native Lands, tenure mapped Central America’s Atlantic coast. They trained indigenous peoples in surveying and GPS. The resultant maps became a means of asserting territoriality and a source of pride.
Tenure mappers try to produce an area’s first map. They integrate crude hand-drawn maps made by local natives into portfolios filled with aerial photos, GPS data, and satellite images compiled by seasoned cartographers. The final product is difficult for governments to dismiss.
Indigenous leaders appear to be at the helm of the tenure mapping process.
CI has an in-house tenure mapping team.
Just as tenure mappers race to make an area’s first map, conservationists race to be indigenous leaders’ first patrons. Consequently, indigenous leaders often sound like Greenpeace campaigners. Examples:
An Australian Aborigine:
“Do you think we don’t know what your farmers do, sterilizing their soil with one chemical, then soaking it with another that poisons their watershed and creates death in the mouths of the rivers.”
A Mexican Indian:
“We are immersed in an environment where we are at equal standing with the rest of the world. They are all kindred relations - the trees, the bugs, and everything is in equal standing with the rest.”
An Iranian nomad:
“Our migratory paths were interrupted by all sorts of ‘development’ initiatives including dams, oil refineries, and military bases.”
This nomad denounced “unsustainable agricultural purposes” adding that nomadic lifestyles:
“create the biocultural corridors that you conservationists need (and) preserve the splendid genetic diversity of our herds as well as the wildlife diversity that depend on it.”
A Tanzanian Maasai:
“…our ways of farming pollinated diverse seed species and maintained corridors between ecosystems.”
An Amazonian Indian group:
“Our accumulated knowledge about the ecology of our home, our models for living with the peculiarities of the Amazon Biosphere, our reverence and respect for the tropical forests and its inhabitants, both plant and animal, are the keys to guaranteeing the future of the Amazon Basin…”
The 2003 Arusha Declaration of sub-Saharan indigenous activists condemned multinational corporations because their “reckless mining and logging and overfishing and hunting causes a lot of danger for human and wildlife as well as disturbances of whole ecosystems.”
Dowie, in several un-footnoted passages, speaks for indigenous peoples. Through him we learn indigenous people consider business-conservation partnerships to be “green-washing.” Natives are particularly miffed when conservationists partner with extractive corporations. He assures us: “pipelines, logging roads, or luxury eco-lodges have no bearing on sustainability from the indigenous point of view.”
Other recent indigenous-conservation triumphs:
- A hotel project in India was killed by an injunction filed on behalf of an indigenous group. The half-finished structure sits abandoned.
- Nepalese villagers now levy a tax on trekkers.
- Zimbabwean villagers now levy a tax on hunters.
- Despite Indonesian law’s non-recognition of indigenous rights, Indonesian park authorities now consult indigenous leaders regarding park management.
- Several Australian protected areas, including Ayer’s Rock, have been turned over to Aborigines.
Not all is harmonious between conservationists and indigenous activists. At the 2004 International Forum on Indigenous Mapping, 200 delegates declared conservation to be the number one threat to indigenous territories. In 2008 the NGO International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity stormed out of a CBD annual meeting.
Conservation International (CI) is a lightning rod for environmentalists dismayed by business-conservationism. However, CI is not the only conservation NGO promoting eco-tourism, bio-prospecting, and co-management plans with extractive industries. Many conservation NGO reports sport photos of smiling natives harvesting nuts for Ben & Jerry’s or plant oils for the Body Shop.
CI lists over 250 partnered corporations in its Centre for Environmental Leadership and Business. TNC’s 2,000 corporate sponsors donate $300 million a year.
CI brokers bio-prospecting deals for International Cooperative Biodiversity Group (ICBG), Monsanto, and Bristol Myers Squibb. ICGB holds patents on 50 compounds isolated from Suriname alone. Locals are promised 3% of profits if the product goes to market.
Eco-tourism is the fastest growing segment of the world’s fastest growing industry. 20% of international tourists self-define as eco-tourists. They take limos from Manhattan to JFK, then fly to the Serengeti to barrel around in Range Rovers. Eco-tourist hotels save water and energy by doing laundry less often. 1% of eco-tourism monies go to locals; most go to airlines. Eco-lodges pay natives to dress in pseudo-ceremonial garb and perform faux fertility dances.
After the UN declared 2002 International Eco-tourism Year, multilateral banks added eco-tourism to their preferred loan lists. Inter-American Development Bank is funding a 15,000-bed Ecologica Hotel in Brazil. Asia Development Bank allocated $1.2 billion for eco-tourism projects along the Mekong River.
Eco-tourism causes evictions. Hundreds of Philippine villagers were evicted, and their homes burned, to make way for Taal Lake Eco-haven. Developing Bangladesh’s Madhupar Eco Park required constructing a five-mile concrete wall and evicting several thousand villagers. Authorities opened fire on a protest rally – killing one, wounding 25.
In June 2003 reps of conservation-funding foundations powwowed in South Dakota. On the confab’s second evening, several attendees caucused to vent about CI’s abuse of indigenous peoples. This caucus prompted the Ford Foundation to commission two studies. (Ford officials had been hearing complaints from indigenous grantees about maltreatment, especially from CI.) The studies’ original focus was CI, but Ford officials, fearing this would appear unfair, added TNC and WWF-US to the studies’ scope.
The studies found that none of the organizations saw it as their responsibility to link conservation with local economic well-being. The studies did not accuse the organizations of evictions but did relay disquieting reports of mass evictions slated for the Congo Basin.
Ford Foundation Chair, Katherine Fuller, was WWF-US President. Another Ford trustee, Yolanda Kakabadse, was a TNC board member and IUCN President. They saw to it that the studies’ authors were limited to verbal presentations of their findings. A bland summary was presented to Ford’s board.
In April 2004 Fuller summoned TNC’s Steve McCormick, CI’s Peter Seligmann, and the (unnamed) foundation reps from the seminal South Dakota meeting. No indigenous peoples’ activists were invited despite there being a dozen native rights groups within blocks of Fuller’s office. At this gathering the conservationists were unapologetic. When pressed about their failure to stand up to extractive industries, they said they had to appear apolitical on matters affecting national sovereignty.
In June 2004 Ford received two related grant proposals. One came from Kakabadse who wanted an open dialogue on indigenous issues at the upcoming World Conservation Congress (Bangkok) over which she would preside. The other came from Fuller who wanted to evaluate WWF-US community-conservation projects and to issue new manuals for WWF-US fieldworkers. Both proposals were approved by August – lighting speed for a foundation.
Anthropologist Mac Chapin exposed this kerfuffle in the November 2004 issue of WorldWatch magazine.
CI’s Seligmann responded:
“The article drives a wedge between conservation and indigenous peoples, thereby distracting attention from what really matters: protecting and maintaining biodiversity… One of our five core organizational goals over the next five years is to continue increasing our partnerships with the support of indigenous peoples.”
WWF-US response noted they were: “the first large conservation group to articulate and practise a policy of affirming the central importance of working as partners with indigenous peoples.” WWF-US created a Washington, DC office run by an anthropologist deeply sensitive to indigenous peoples.
McCormick’s response drew attention to TNC’s Core Values Statement:
“We respect the needs of local communities by developing ways to conserve biological diversity while at the same time enabling humans to live productively and sustainably on the landscape.”
CI-bashers gleefully recount CI antics in Guyana and Papua New Guinea (PNG).
In 1996, as part of a CI-led initiative, Guyana’s Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) was promised $12 million to cooperate in a park project. (Funds came from the EU, World Bank, and German Bank for Reconstruction.) Without telling APA, the park was enlarged from 5 square miles to 242 square miles so as to envelop the world’s largest single-drop waterfall.
CI’s regional director, a retired Guyanese General, persuaded two Wai Wai chiefs (both subordinates of his in the Army) to sign an agreement whereby the Wai Wai relinquished hunting and fishing rights in the park for $1 million. CI claimed the $1 million was for park management. The Chiefs do not know what they signed. Another tribe inside the park, furious at their exclusion, threatened to behead the Wai Wai chiefs and float their skulls down the river in a canoe.
These controversies scared off the World Bank. However, CI with WWF help (both have people on the park’s board) coaxed the World Bank back onside.
In 2002 Moore Foundation officials et al. (including H. Fisk Johnson) took a chartered jet from San Francisco to PNG’s $500-a-night Karawari Lodge where they waited for Seligmann to pick them up on the $25,000-a-day Reef Encounter mega-yacht for scuba diving and conservation prospecting near Milne Bay, PNG.
Seligmann pooh-poohed advice not to engage in “cargo for conservation” negotiations with Milne Bay elders. Veteran conservationists know “cargo for conservation” usually turns into blackmail or worse – bidding wars with extractive industries. Many villages have facilities built with conservation money. Many villages breeched contracts they signed to receive those facilities.
CI’s man in Milne Bay was a high-powered micro-manager fresh from a UNDP Red Sea project who knew nothing of Milne Bay and who cringed every time he heard the word “local.”
By 2006 CI’s $6.4 million Milne Bay budget (donated by governments and foundations) was exhausted years ahead of schedule. Most was spent on sport utility vehicles, fast boats, plush offices, and first-class air travel. $1 million simply vanished.
The MacArthur Foundation, a major marine conservation granter, cut off CI everywhere in the South Pacific. However, Moore came through with a $17 million grant to help CI improve its financial oversight.
The indigenous sovereigntist movement and the Climate Change campaign are covalent. Climate activists press for the preservation of forests and wetlands on the pretext this will sequester heat-trapping CO2. The indigenous movement is all about protecting the same jungles and swamps in order to preserve sacred traditional lifeways. Indigenous peoples’ obstruction of hinterland development locks up oil and coal fields. Suppressing these fuels is the Climate activists’ main objective. The indigenous sovereigntist movement and the Climate Change campaign arose from, and are directed by, precisely the same matrix of international environmentalist NGOs and UN agencies.
Conservationist suppression of resource extraction, human settlement, and agriculture on 12% of Earth’s land is a macro-economic game-changer. The price of every commodity, especially land, is inflated by conservationism. The Great Fear in metropoles is that resource-rich areas of the Americas, Africa, and Australia will be thrown open in a 19th century fashion. This would cause another hemorrhaging of farmers, entrepreneurs, skilled trades people, and venture capitalists from Old Europe and the US Northeast. These two areas would be rendered backwaters; their sacred real estate would become worthless. The price of preserving metropolitan land values is constant conservationist vigilance.
In yet another stumble down Serfdom Road, Canada recently signed on to the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration is a duplicitous, dishonest document. On the one hand, it repeatedly calls for “indigenous self-determination” defined as: autonomy, self-governance, freedom from assimilation, the right to revitalize culture and language, the right to control education, the right to their own media and to have their culture reflected in state-owned media. On the other hand, Article 46 stipulates the Declaration does not authorize the dismemberment or impairment of the territorial integrity or political unity of any member state – things which “indigenous self-determination,” so defined, would surely do.
Indigenous-ism is the anti-democratic belief that one racial group within an area is entitled to political and economic privileges because their ancestors inhabited the area for a longer period than did the ancestors of their fellow citizens. Indigenous-ism waxes to romantic climax with chauvinistic claims about genetic bonds to the land. Nazis abbreviated this to “blood and soil.” (In Dowie’s book, replacing “tribal peoples” with “German peasant” resuscitates verbatim Nazi propaganda.) European politicians presently championing “indigenous rights” are of the Far Right. Politicians in the colonial world who champion “indigenous rights” are wrongly given a pass. Indigenous rights activism is not a push for equality but for supremacy; it is a racist, treasonous movement aligned with European reactionaries who view the dismemberment of the USA, Canada, Brazil, and Australia with delight.
- Smith, Donald; Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online; Volume XV
- Wikipedia sections on George Manuel and World Council on Indigenous Peoples
Except for the footnotes, Afterword and Intro, all facts in the above abridgement come from:
Dowie, Mark; Conservation Refugees, the Hundred-Year Conflict between Global Conservation and Native Peoples; MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2009)