In This Section
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.
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.
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.
Despite the new ‘people-friendly’ conservation paradigm called for in Durban in 2003, from Thailand to Kenya, Cameroon to India, Chile to Mongolia, local people continue to be evicted and dispossessed, their livelihoods severely restricted and their fundamental human rights violated in the name of protecting nature.
Far too many protected areas continue to be conceived and managed on the deeply-entrenched and wrongly-held assumption that people are in direct opposition to conservation. By failing to engage them, conservation agencies are wasting huge potential for collaboration and mutual benefit.
As countries look to meet the UN goal to protect 17% of their land by 2020, this human toll is likely to rise if nothing is done to address the intrinsic failings of today’s conservation approach.
- Promote rights-based, alternative forms of conservation based on real participation and consultation of local communities and the recognition that sustainable conservation is inextricably linked to securing land rights and livelihoods.
- Propose concrete ways forward and test them on the ground to prove that an alternative model works.
- Share RFUK’s findings at national, regional and international level to encourage the replication of successful approaches and policy change.
- Build the capacity of local actors to monitor human rights compliance in and around protected areas, seek remedy and push for change in their countries.
Focusing initially on the Congo Basin rainforest in central Africa, we will call upon national governments to review their current protected area policies, assessing their conservation effectiveness and revising practices so that community rights are integrated into all aspects of conservation and planning.
We will work to demonstrate to major donors and non-governmental organisations 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.
- Early in 2016, RFUK published a report, Protected Areas in the Congo Basin: Failing Both People and Biodiversity, co-authored by Aili Pyhälä, Ana Osuna Orozco and RFUK’s Director Simon Counsell. Our research, based on a sample of 34 protected areas across the Congo Basin reveals that biodiversity in the region continues to decline, that there is little evidence that the ‘guns and guards’ approach to protected areas is effective and that, due to aggressive enforcement, conflicts and human rights abuses are widespread and the livelihoods of many local people severely compromised.
- Short film about forest communities affected by the Tumba Lediima Reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo
- Launch of Conservation Watch in September 2016. Run by environmentalist Chris Lang and funded by RFUK, the site aims to facilitate discussion about the real impacts of protected area policy and practice in the Global South.