New website launched to expose global protected area abuses
Biodiversity and wildlife conservation is crucially important. But it has a dark side. From the Congo Basin to Kenya, India and Peru, Mongolia to Uganda, the designation of natural habitats as “protected areas” has brought dispossession, hardship and persecution to indigenous peoples and local communities who have lived there for centuries.
It is to expose these abuses that environmental writer and researcher Chris Lang launched Conservation Watch on 5 September 2016, while top conservation players were meeting at the four-yearly IUCN World Conservation Congress (WCC) in Hawaii, hoping to shape the direction of conservation and sustainable development.
The website, featuring a mixture of posts written by Mr Lang, guest contributions and interviews with a variety of people working in conservation, aims to facilitate discussion about the real impacts of protected area policy and practice in the Global South and hold to account those responsible for human rights abuses and land grabs in the name of conservation.
“The current model of conservation is too often flawed and unfair,” said Mr Lang in a statement. “With Conservation Watch we aim to shed light on how indigenous peoples and local communities continue to pay the price for conservation.”
Posts on Conservation Watch will highlight evictions and human rights abuses and document the impact of protected areas on peoples’ livelihoods. The website will also do a weekly round-up of the news on national parks, protected areas and conservation in the Global South.
As evidenced in a recent report by Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, despite the promises made by conservation actors since the 2003 Durban Action Plan, human rights abuses against indigenous peoples and local communities living in and around protected areas continue.
“Violence still exists, such as recent cases of burning of houses of indigenous peoples, arrests, beatings, destruction, and also killings of indigenous peoples who have been protecting the rights to their lands and territories which include protected areas,” she said.
There is not only bad news. Conservation Watch will also showcase positive examples of community-based conservation with the aim of encouraging a more widespread sustainable approach to habitat protection.
Conservation Watch is supported by RFUK.