Indigenous people, the world’s oldest conservationists, still do not enjoy clear rights to their territories and natural resources in many countries though their knowledge and practices have contributed immensely to the conservation of ecosystem, species and genetic diversity.

Diverse cultures

Every time there is talk of “development project”, tribal people are the first ones to be evicted from their own lands whether it is in India or Argentina. There was no recognition yet of their institutions of collective governance and no respect to their diverse cultures, lifestyles and economic systems, according to a study undertaken by an international consortium.

The study that documented 19 country case studies, covering all continents found that it was the same story everywhere in the Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCAs) as they are now known internationally. A book brought out by the Convention on Biological Diversity Secretariat based on this study undertaken by the ICCA Consortium and coordinated by the Indian NGO, Kalpavriksh, was released by Braulio Ferriera de Souza Dias, at the venue of CoP 11 here on Friday.

The book showcases how in Australia, indigenous protected areas make up about 30 per cent of the official protected area estate while in the Philippines legislation relating to ancestral domain rights provided backing to their efforts to conserve and sustainably manage their territories. At the same time there were countries where extractive industries as mining and large infrastructure projects, imposition of inappropriate land uses continue to pose serious threats. Global cooperation was needed to enable all countries achieve recognition of ICCAs to enhance their contribution to conservation, livelihood security and cultural sustenance. The book suggests exclusion of destructive activities like mining from the ICCAs and that they be recognised as protected areas.

Action plans

Dr. Braulio said the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity having agreed to fulfil the Aichi biodiversity targets should recognise the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Conserved Territories and Areas and incorporate them in their national biodiversity action plans. Ashish Kothari of Kalpavriksh said the publication provided details of the range, extent and values of ICCAs, the threats they face and the efforts made by Governments and civil society in recognising their rights and supporting them.

It shows how ICCAs can help all countries to meet many of the Aichi’s 20 targets especially the 11{+t}{+h}one of expanding protected area coverage to 17 per cent of the terrestrial and 10 per cent of the marine areas.

Chrissy Grant, ICCA Consortium, Australia, Giovanni Reyes, ICCA consortium, The Philippines and Taghi Farvar from Iran spoke.

  • Every time there is talk of ‘development project’, tribal people are the first to be evicted

  • Study documents 19 country case studies, finds it is the same story everywhere