by Stephen Corry, Director
Prince William talked today of the “importance of community-led conservation” and for communities to get economic benefits from wildlife. Good so far; the narrative at least is beginning to shift away from colonialist conservation slightly.
Before we start celebrating though let’s remember two things:
1) Big conservation organizations have been saying similar things for years but have never applied them. WWF, for example, has had a great indigenous peoples policy for 20 years, but it was clear to us after two days of talks with them last year that they had no real intention of carrying it out.
2) Prince William did not mention that the consent of tribal and indigenous peoples is needed before projects can be established on their land. This is both the most important thing, as well as the one which the big conservation organizations seem unlikely ever to concede.
It’ll take more than speeches to persuade those currently threatened with having their lands stolen for conservation (eg. proposed Messok Dja park in Republic of Congo) or being abused for entering protected zones (eg. Baka people in Cameroon), or for being targeted for even more abuse if they dare to complain.
Survival is working with tribal peoples to protect their lands and lives threatened by conservation. They know the best, as well as the cheapest, way to protect the environment and its wildlife.
Help us change conservation for the better. It’s too important to leave to the big organizations.