Conservation policy and practice has historically failed to take into
account forest and indigenous peoples' rights and needs. In so
doing, it has also failed to protect forests and biodiversity.
We want to see a fundamental shift worldwide towards a more
effective, sustainable method of conservation - a 'people-friendly'
approach that can better protect forests, wildlife and people.
The current conservation model carries a heavy human cost. Many of the world's national parks and 100,000 protected areas have been created through the removal of indigenous peoples and other local communities. By failing to engage them, conservation agencies are wasting huge potential for collaboration and mutual benefit.
Despite the new ‘people-friendly’ conservation paradigm called for in Durban in 2003, local people continue to be evicted and dispossessed, their livelihoods severely restricted and their fundamental human rights violated in the name of protecting nature. As countries look to meet the UN goal to protect 17% of their land by 2020, the need to properly engage indigenous and local communities has never been more important.
We are working to demonstrate that community-based conservation is better both for forests and for the wildlife and people who live in them, supporting the development of policies that position the genuine, full consent and consultation of local communities at the heart of a new model of conservation.
Some of our achievements include:
Based on a sample of 34 protected areas across Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon and the Republic of Congo, including four detailed case studies, this study reveals that biodiversity in the region continues to decline, that there is little evidence that the ‘guns and guards’ approach to protected areas is being effective, and that due to aggressive enforcement, conflicts and human rights abuses are widespread and the livelihoods of many local people have been severely compromised.