Scientific evidence shows that Indigenous people understand and manage their environment better than anyone else: 80% of Earth’s biodiversity can be found in Indigenous territories. The best way to protect biodiversity is therefore to respect the land rights of Indigenous peoples – the best conservationists. Nevertheless, the mainstream conservation model today is still, just as in colonial times, “Fortress Conservation”: a model that creates militarized Protected Areas accessible only to the wealthy on the lands of Indigenous peoples. This “conservation” is destroying the land and lives of Indigenous peoples. But this is where most of the Western funding for nature protection is going. Why? Because the myths that sustain this model of conservation are reproduced in school texts, media, wildlife documentaries, NGO adverts, etc.
Imagine one day City Hall seized your home’s front and back yards, along with your driveway, front walk and back porch. Yes, you’d still have a house where you could eat, sleep and reside. But you’d no longer have your full home and what was rightly yours. Now, imagine you were given the opportunity for that land to be returned to you. All you’d have to do is promise to never change a thing. You could maybe do something benign – pruning the trees or mowing the grass – but you could not build a shed, start a garden, or add a swing set for your children. Would you take the deal? This, in essence, is the deal Indian Country is commonly offered when land conservation organizations offer to return anywhere from 10 to 10,000 acres of land to Native American tribes. Land that was wrongly taken from tribes more than 100 years ago is often only returned if the tribes agree to adhere to someone else’s interpretation of what’s best.
On the island of Gotland in Sweden, residents have spent this year letting their green lawns die off in a mass effort to conserve water. Irrigation bans led neighbors to get creative, offering a title to whoever ended up with the ugliest lawn. For this year, Marcus Norström’s lawn took the crown. The jury described the winning lawn humorously as “a really lousy lawn that lives up to all our expectations of Gotland’s ugliest lawn and has good conditions for a more sustainable improvement.” The jury also said the lawn exhibited “meritorious laziness” and “great care for our common groundwater,” as reported by The Guardian. The prize: a visit from Sara Gistedt, one of the lawn judges and a gardener, who will advise Norström on what drought-resistant plants to add to his property.
On its face, nothing seems more benign and positive than “wildlife conservation.” But the Wildlife Conservation Society and the German and US governments have now been implicated in supporting organized violence against Congolese villagers, using mortars, RPGs, indisciminate fire, murder and rape. This is the finding of award-winning investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker Robert Flummerfelt. Flummerfelt and his team uncovered a three-year campaign of violence by park authorities to expel Batwa people from their lands, using funding and trained by the West and conservation groups.
Amid the unprecedented global ecological crisis, Africa still supports one quarter of the world’s biodiversity and the largest assemblages of megafauna. Indigenous Africans of the rangelands, desert, and forests have always protected their fauna and flora. Land where they exercise traditional rights has proven to be central for global biodiversity conservation. But today they are facing the threat of a colossal land grab by Western conservation agencies, and their corporate and state allies, who advocate to double the coverage of protected areas around the world by setting aside 30 percent of terrestrial cover for conservation by 2030. Protected areas are the national parks, forests, game reserves, and other places from which states evict original inhabitants for biodiversity conservation.
Native to the north of the country, Tanzania’s Maasai people have been protesting against the government’s renewed efforts to strip them of the right to occupy and use their ancestral lands. What would it take to defend their homeland? "I am born to live my life," says Denis Moses Oleshangai, a Maasai youth activist hailing from northern Tanzania, in the Ngorongoro province’s village of Endulen. "But to live my life I need to achieve my dreams, so I will be fighting even if there is any danger, or obstacle for community and myself." In recent years, many Maasai activists were arrested for speaking out. In 2017, around 200 Maasai houses were burned in Loliondo, their livestock confiscated.
Most gardens, parks, or human-controlled land of any kind, have traditionally been maintained as personal visions of what is considered a socially fashionable and acceptable beauty. An Ark is what we call those places which have been set free from those chains to heal our planet, patch by patch. It is a restored, native ecosystem, a local, small, medium, or large rewilding project. A thriving patch of native plants and creatures that have been allowed and supported to re-establish in the Earth’s intelligent, successional process of natural restoration. Over time this becomes a pantry and a habitat for our pollinators and wild creatures who are in desperate need of support. This takes time to happen but it begins to re-establish itself as a simple ecosystem very quickly and over time it becomes a strong wildlife habitat and eventually a multi-tiered complex community of native plants, creatures, and micro-organisms.
The loss of Black-owned land in this community exposes a cruel irony. Pembroke has been one of the few places Black landowners could gain a foothold in Illinois, in part because this land was passed over by white settlers who presumed its sandy soils were worthless. And now, after generations without large-scale development or landscape-destroying corporate farming, this land has become sought after by outside conservationists because Pembroke’s savannas remain largely untouched.
The Sweet Fern Savanna Land and Water Reserve, in the heart of Pembroke Township, Illinois, offers a glimpse into what much of the area looked like before European settlers drained swamps and cleared forests to grow corn and soybeans. At least 18 threatened or endangered plant and animal species, including the ornate box turtle and regal fritillary butterfly, have been sighted here. Mature oaks tower over verdant fields of clustered sedge and Carolina whipgrass. Warbling songbirds and buzzing cicadas add a mellow soundtrack to the tranquil scene. Sixty miles south of Chicago, this wildlife reserve is among nearly 2,900 acres owned by private individuals and environmental groups — most prominently, The Nature Conservancy — trying to establish a network of nature sanctuaries in Kankakee County.
An unprecedented hearing by the US House Natural Resources Committee has seen WWF’s reputation shredded by Representatives from both parties, and independent experts, and a denunciation of the “fortress conservation” model that leads to human rights atrocities. The organization was subjected to unprecedented attack for its involvement in human rights abuses, and refusal to take responsibility for them. Survival International’s Fiore Longo called it “the conservation industry’s equivalent of the Abu Ghraib scandal – a moment from which it will never recover.” The hearing was prompted by exposés by Buzzfeed News and many other investigations, including testimonies from Indigenous people collected by Survival International over many years, that laid bare WWF’s involvement in human rights abuses, particularly in Africa and Asia.
Ever since protesters started chaining themselves to logging roads in the Teal-Jones Fairy Creek cut block on southern Vancouver Island, dozens of articles on old-growth logging have declared that the ancient trees are worth far more standing than cut down for lumber. Usually, they go on to say that the trees' value is incalculable. The old-growth forests of British Columbia took 8,000 years to develop into amazing mini-ecosystems of biodiversity that store carbon, filter water, and provide habitat for endangered plant and animal species. It’s a fool’s game to measure their value in dollars and cents, because we'll never come to grips with the fact that the forests are priceless. But logging companies have no trouble putting a price on the giant trees by calculating the value of the lumber that can be produced.
By Emilio Godoy for IPS - HONOLULU, Hawaii, USA, Sep 7 2016 (IPS) - When the communities living in the Tatamá y Serranía de los Paraguas Natural National Park in the west of Colombia organised in 1996 to defend their land and preserve the ecosystem, they were fighting deforestation, soil degradation and poaching. Twenty years later, local residents, farmers and community organisations have created four reserves, a brand of coffee and a community radio station, while making progress in conservation of this part of the Chocó-Darién conservation corridor along the border with Panama, although threats persist.
By Kory Grow for Rolling Stone - Neil Young has launched a new website, GoEarth.org, with the aim of motivating people toward global conservation. The site offers information on earth ecology, banning GMOs, the future of farming, climate change and social causes, among other topics. Taking inspiration from the "Village" of activist organizations that have been traveling with Young on his current tour, the site's motto is, "It takes a village to keep the free world rockin'."
More than half a million people called on the government to protect the monarch butterfly today, as the public comment period on protecting monarchs under the Endangered Species Act closed. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now has nine months to determine whether to propose protections for the iconic orange and black butterfly which has declined by 90 percent in the last 20 years. The agency’s review of the monarch was spurred by a legal petition filed in August by the Center for Food Safety, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Xerces Society and renowned monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower, all of whom submitted comments today renewing their call for the agency to list the monarch butterfly as threatened. In December the Service announced a positive initial finding on the petition and determined that Endangered Species Act protection for monarch butterflies may be warranted, triggering a one-year status review. The petition has been resoundingly supported by monarch experts, legislators, and the public.