Since its inception at the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP) ‘Sharing Power’ conference in Whakatane, New Zealand, in January 2011, the Whakatane Mechanism has been piloted in two places: at Mount Elgon in Western Kenya and most recently in the Ob Luang National Park in Northern Thailand.
In January, indigenous peoples’ organisations sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Thailand, Yingluck Shinawatra, asking her to take immediate action to redress the forcible expulsion of Karen people from their ancestral territory in north-western Thailand, which is now overlapped by the Kaeng Krachan National Park.
According to sources that have visited Kaeng Krachan National Park and collected information, the harassment of Karen villagers has been going on for some time and became severe in May, June and July 2011, when many of the villagers’ houses and rice stores were burned and money, jewellery, fishing and agricultural tools were stolen by a group comprising National Park wardens and military forces. As a result, some of these villagers moved away and are now staying with relatives elsewhere and a number of them (allegedly around 70 people) are hiding in the forest in fear of meeting government officers, and are without sufficient food and shelter.
The following article was published by IUCN here: http://www.iucn.org/about/union/commissions/ceesp/?8772/Indigenous-peoples-r
Stefan Disko (International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs), TILCEPA member Helen Tugendhat (Forest Peoples Programme)
Two peer-reviewed studies published recently show that strict conservation is less effective in reducing deforestation than community forests that are managed and controlled by Indigenous Peoples and forest-dependent communities within multiple use systems (e.g. IUCN categories V and VI)
One study, by Porter-Bolland et al. from CIFOR, is a statistical analysis of annual deforestation rates as reported in 73 case studies conducted in the tropics. They find that deforestation is significantly lower in community-managed forests than in strict protected forests.
The other study on forest loss undertaken by the World Bank Independent Evaluation Group (authored by Nelson and Chomitz) finds that some community-managed forests are located in areas with higher deforestation pressures than strict protected areas. Taking this into account, they find that community-managed forests are much more effective in reducing deforestation than strict protected areas (cf. summary table, p9). Where there is data, they find that forest areas managed and controlled by Indigenous Peoples are even more effective.
Conservation organisations have been making great strides towards recognising that protected areas must respect the rights of indigenous peoples as enshrined in international law, including the right to give or withhold their free prior and informed consent to the establishment of new protected areas in their customary territories. Yet in practice conservation organisations often continue to exclude local people from using forest and other resources, and only consult them after they have drawn up management plans rather than jointly writing them.
Canada’s Auditor General commented in her June 2011 report that living conditions in First Nations reserves are still much worse than elsewhere in Canada. Reflecting on her ten years in office, she argued that a fundamental change is needed to address this issue. In 2010, Canada finally endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) after being one of four governments to vote against it during its passage through the General Assembly in 2007.
Update 3rd August 2011
The concept note for pilot Whakatane Assessment has been finalized. You can download it here
As mentioned in Forest Peoples Programme’s February E-Newsletter, a meeting was held at the IUCN CEESP Sharing Power conference in Whakatane, New Zealand, January 2011, between indigenous representatives, the chairs of three IUCN commissions (CEESP, WCPA and SSC) and sub-commissions (TILCEPA and TGER), key staff of the IUCN secretariat (the Director of the Environment and Development Programme and the Senior Adviser on Social Policy), and other staff from IUCN, Conservation International and Forest Peoples Programme.
The main outcome of the meeting and subsequent follow-up discussions was an agreement to implement a series of measures to review the implementation of resolutions related to indigenous peoples adopted at the 4th World Conservation Congress (WCC4) in 2008 and to advance their implementation should there be a gap.
Over the last 10 years, governments and conservation organisations have made significant commitments at the international level to promote participatory conservation, and uphold the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities in protected area policies and activities. But, on the ground, progress to implement these commitments has been very patchy. In many cases, protected areas are still imposed through top-down policies and approaches, leading to the displacement of indigenous peoples, curtailment of their livelihoods and conflict over resources.
Most of the world's biodiversity targets have not been met. This is the key message of the third edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3), presented at the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD)'s 14th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-14). The report does, however, choose to highlight the expansion of protected areas as a positive accomplishment. For indigenous peoples this is a cause for concern - not a success - as the establishment and expansion of protected areas still largely takes place without their participation and consent. This concern was underlined in the conclusions of the in-depth review of the implementation of the CBD's Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA).