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Seeking New Paths to Conservation

Draft background paper - Seeking New Paths to Conservation Workshop, "SHARING POWER" Conference (January 2011)

This paper is intended to provoke discussion and generate better, shared understanding of the problems, the opportunities, and the options for nurturing concrete actions toward more socially-just and ecologically-sustainable conservation and development in significantly-large, geographically-defined places. The aim is to brainstorm ways to re-vision conservation as an integrated principle of "development", not conservation as set-asides nor partnerships with development plans and agents responsible for environmental damages and human rights violations. Please send comments, corrections, suggestions and additional information to DRAFT 10 DECEMBER 2010

The Conservation Industry and its relationship to development

The image of conservation has become synonymous with big international NGOs and their allies consolidated into a multibillion dollar [1] corporate industry structure interwoven with global business interests, focused on isolating and controlling protected spaces (e.g., parks, "no-take-zones," and their associated resource corridors) and market-linked activities implemented in collaboration with national governments and global corporations.

The conservation and environmental sector was initially created to counter business’s environmental destruction through activism, regulations and enforcement against business violations. However, as the globalization trends and funding opportunities grew, conservation subsequently moved into a closer relationship with business interests [2].  Conservation organizations have, from 2004 [3] onward, effectively joined business that alienate the productive resources of biodiverse lands [4] and waters [5] from their customary local users/custodians ("the poor") and move them into the hands of a conglomerated business and conservation industry.  In 2010, conservation is a multi-billion dollar global industry [6] brokered by big international NGO experts funded by corporations and international financial institutions without public accountability for their actions or the outcomes of their financial flows.  

Vision statements of the major conservation industry players speak of sustainable development, equitable benefits, and saving the Global Ark.   Yet despite this public face, conservation has demonstrated a mixed record of failures to support the bundle of human rights, inequitable impoverization, profits from business connections, and failures to conserve biodiversity on the ground [7].  

Over the past two decades, in response to criticisms, conservation industry has responded by repeatedly developing "lessons learned", tools for change, policise on working with indigenous and local communities, and asserted "partnerships" with local and indigenous communities, but this has not significantly changed the way conservation is done [8].   The industry has prospered, extended its reach, and successfully adopted the right words and discourse while cultivating and expanding funding relationships with global business interests.  Local people have become less and less relevant for conservation organizations´ fundraising.   Conservation and development projects, once the vogue, are increasingly criticized as a failed approach without assessing how the narrow path taken by their design and implementation contributed to their failures.   

At the same time, the "taking" of local resources and criminalization of local means of production have expanded their reach through the imposition of conservation easements as well as the formalization of national governments sovereign rights over carbon, water, forests, lands and biodiversity that form the customary resources of local communities and indigenous peoples -- furthering marginalizing them [9].

Today´s conservation industry is financed and built around influences acquired from set-asides and mitigation markets that accompany economic development projects with major negative consequences on people and biodiversity, including poorly regulated mining and other extractive industry, highway and other transportation infrastructure, dams, and other capital investments in remote areas.  Set-asides [10] short circuit social movements opposition to development that damages and disenfranchises local people. 

The human rights abuses and general marginalization of local interests by conservation industry activities have been well-documented over the past 15 years, without significant change in behavior.  In 2009, an analysis of conservation and displacement notes that it is "remarkable" that conservation NGOs have not responded to these critiques by modifying their behavior,  given the "severity of the accusations" that have driven multilateral development banks to formulate guidelines [11].  Conservation spokespersons, however, have rallied an increasingly shrill defense in the face of human rights abuse accusations leveled against them [12]. 

With 12% of our Earth´s surface under Protected Areas status and new targets of 17% [13], centralized databanks of information on biodiversity and its geographic distribution jointly held by conservation organizations and extractive industries [14],  and with ecotourism and "green" certification within their domain [15], conservation agencies are now expanding their portfolios by (a) seeking to bring 25-50% of the Earth under conservation management according to their criteria and controls, and (b) positioning themselves as major intermediaries for brokering and implementing REDD and Global Climate Change adaptation at global and national levels, to the point where some major REDD financiers privately express their concern that funders, governments and civil society are being held hostage by these NGO intermediaries.

The growth and diversification of the international conservation industry has proceeded from a point in the early 90s when the conservation NGOs were focusing on dealing with local people through highlighting their "integrated conservation and development projects" [16] while they consolidated control for their respective geographic territories and  ¨flagship/charismatic" species to create an emblematic image of on-the-ground work.  

Meanwhile they increased their energies dedicated to fundraising and reduced their energies used for facing off against agents who threatened nature (MDBs infrastructure projects, extractive industries, agroindustry, etc.).   They laid the foundation of external relationships with each other and with business in national and international circles, and then, from 2000-2005, they evolved rapidly into powerful global players linked to, and colluding with, the actors who destroy nature in their pursuit of profit.   

From 2005 to 2010, conservation NGOs also turned new attention to Indigenous Peoples and tribal/nomadic communities´ lands outside protected areas, describing them as at the "coalface of conservation in the 21st century".  This strategic move is enabling conservation NGOs to expand their territories and market new areas and services to donors, beyond that now under protected area status.  TNC, for example, has a new Indigenous and Communal Land Conservation Strategy, and is moving to implement this approach as a complement to its private reserves work in Africa.  Across eastern Africa, conservation easements are being promoted by all of the international conservation NGOs in ways that negatively affect the livelihoods and human rights of pastoralists [17].

One of the new services being marketed by the conservation NGOs revolves around the rising funds for REDD.  Conservation NGOs have seized the REDD opportunities to position themselves as intermediary, certifier, and implementers [18]. REDD funding and certification links are enabling conservation NGOs to use their influence in new ways as intermediaries.  In Mexico, for example, WWF is handling the Mexican Governments webpage on REDD. They are paying less attention to the negative impacts of REDD, including: impoverization and loss of food security through loss of access to natural resources on which depend and which form the basis for IP life plans, territorial development (life/gestión) plans, and other aspects of self-determination and cultural identity; loss of rights to self-determination, and disruption of social systems through use of incentives to split communities.

On the heels of rising and continuing criticism and public attention to the human rights abuses alleged to be committed by conservation, in 2004 [19], seven international conservation NGOs (WWF, Conservation International, Flora and Fauna International, Wetlands International, The Nature Conservancy, BirdLife International and the Wildlife Conservation Society) and the IUCN secretariat began a series of dialogues facilitated by IIED which culminated in the Conservation Initiative on Human Rights in Conservation (CIHR) announced in 2010.    This is a significant move because together these eight institutions arguably set the agenda for the conservation industry.  

Yet, during the six years of the group´s formation, members have not publically responded to specific allegations, such as the 2009 report from the UNHRC Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples who filed a finding and recommendation in 2009 that the protected areas policies and laws should be revised to prevent the current human rights abuses in the conservation context in Nepal [20].


The conservation NGOs´ oldest partner is government.  The protected areas legislation and regulations were/are largely written by conservation NGOs, and developing countries´ park agency budgets have been covered by international NGOs.   Beginning in the late 90s, there was increasing transfer of responsibility for park management and enforcement transferred to NGOs [21], with increasingly nebulous lines between government and international NGOs.   In some countries, under pressure from the public, park agencies have paid attention to governance and equity issues with some improvements [22].  The IUCN World Parks Congress in 2003, made recommendations to governments regarding good governance [23].

The Countercurrent

The countercurrent (sometimes described as Little Conservation [24] when contrasted with international NGOs activities as Big Conservation) consists of actions by grassroots organizations from local to international levels.  Local NGOs in the trenches on the ground with these grassroots efforts have spoken out against the Big Conservation organizations as "ecofascists" working on "the dark side", and other negative terms, because they are perceived to be working against the countercurrent agendas of social and environmental justice movements in the same countries where conservationists are engaged closely with government and business.  

In some cases,  international NGOs have shown that alliances with social movements as institutional interlocutors with business and government can yield significant conservation outcomes [25].

The countercurrent, of grassroots organizations and their allies fighting for conservation with social justice, has stayed its course over these past thirty years.   That countercurrent includes marginalized minority voices within the conservation agencies´ own staffs [26], independent local NGOs, peoples´ organizations, some research institutions, and activist organizations.   Indigenous peoples, peasants, and their allies have most vigorously supported this countercurrent and opposed development damage to the ecologically landscapes as well as their own displacement from their lands and waters. 

This countercurrent is often invisible to outsiders and is rarely studied, but has been documented in the Amazon [27], where the Transamazon social movement successfully advocated for the creation of a 5.6 million-hectare reserve mosaic in the Xingu river basin, indigenous movements gained control over more than 1 million km2, and rubber tappers gained control of reserves totalling 200,000 km2.    Analysis indicates that the Transamazon is an example of how international NGOs can achieve conservation goals by allying with social movements and recognizing them as institutional interlocutors.  This option is rarely taken, however, or taken under pressure [28].

The grassroots-driven countercurrent primarily surfaces to reject the activities of large scale development, extraction industries, corporate landgrabbing, and other capital investments in rural areas that damage the livelihoods and rights of local residents.   The countercurrent running below the radar [29], under the surface of the river, is founded in two key convictions: (a) local knowledge, tenure and "agency" is necessary for managing the landscape for ecologically-sustainability that must incorporate production systems; and  (b) human rights are fundamental and should not be violated by conservation and/or development activities.   The UN memberships´ approval of UNDRIP in 2007 has given countercurrents new energy that has yet to be nurtured for conservation goals.  

During the last ten years, the indigenous peoples movement has gained global strength, but remains marginalized on the edges of global conservation events and powerblock decisions.

Neither the conservation organizations, government agencies nor grassroots have adequate monitoring systems to demonstrate the empirical outcomes of their efforts.   Lin Ostrom´s pioneering work [30] has demonstrated that the level of empirically-measured forest quality/persistence is directly related to the level of local involvement, whether in community forests or protected areas or other reserves.   But this information is ignored by the conservation and others, perhaps because it is academic.  The IASC academic interdisciplinary association has promoted these concepts for twenty years with limited success - supporting the conclusion that it is not empirical evidence produced by researchers that will create a change in the conservation industry or renew conservation to incorporate a concern for measurable conservation results rather than funds raised by promoting new sexy projects that appeal to their business partners.

Conclusions and the Alternative Vision

The alternative vision of "Conservation with Social Justice" is a conservation that is accountable, celebrates cultural diversity, cares for species and ecosystems,  and supports civil society movements to bring a more socially and environmentally just world into being.   It blossoms from a philanthropic spirit to care for our fellow beings and for our planet Earth.    This new conservation envisions a world where all species are respected and raw profits do not drive decision-making.  It recognizes the economic and human rights of local communities and indigenous peoples, and does not use conservation set-asides as a means for centralized development projects or corporate enterprises to bypass civil society controls that would create more equitable and sustainable conservation with development.

The envisioned, renewed conservation will be effective over the longterm, because it uses rights-based approaches that recognize and support customary tenurial rights as well as other human rights; it responds to the specificities and histories of local places by responding to the visions and ideas of local and indigenous peoples.   It respects and relies on local knowledge and decisions.  It renews our alliance with nature as we struggle to control global climate change in ways that create space on our planetary Ark for all species and ecosystems to evolve and maintain the web of life that makes our blue planet unique.

Conceiving and achieving a renewed conservation movement will require achieving a real (not hollow wordsmithing) shared shift in the discourse used to discuss conservation,  accompanied by significant changes in the framing and practice of conservation.  This change could be achieved and maintained through enlightened global leadership responding to a collaborative societal effort leveraged upward from a united, legitimate grassroots base that is currently subaltern, dispersed and weak.   This successful leveraging of change has happened in isolated cases; e.g., Amazonian Brazil and in the Canadian Northwest coast, but has not had an impact on the industry at the global level nor leveraged change in other regions.   To achieve the goal at a global level, a visible public space is necessary for bringing the issues to light in ways that bring sustained global attention to the problem and threaten the conservation industries image.   Dialogue alone is insufficient to create change as it often only creates more finely-honed lip service without investment changes.

We are exploring recommendations for a suite of new actions that support the grassroots-driven countercurrents and create new allies to build a different kind of conservation industry to support the renewed vision without generating more defensive rebuttals and lip service to unimplemented principles. 

Efforts to reform conservtion will be effective if they are based on the social movement theory principle [31] (MacAdams) that conservation cannot be re-imagined unless the current real behind-the-scenes image is raised in particular publically-visible cases, and demonstrated to be at variance with conservation´s projected Image of honorable actions and impacts while at the same time strategically shifting the discourse frame to support the renewed vision of conservation.    To date images of locally-driven conservation have gained ground in the media alongside the images of the conservation industry, rather than being contrasted with them.  Forward progress depends on the industry/government engaging with the countercurrent; hence the importance of engaging with the CIHR initiative though IUCN (subject of a separate workshop at this conference).

Two possible NEW actions toward generating solutions are:

1. Independent inspection mechanism (public accountability with commitments for resolution and change).

2. Higher profile grassroots-based policy platform for airing problems and solutions from "countercurrents".

Notice just arrived of a new Facebook page [32] (December 2010) created for airing complaints and responses.  This will be a public free-for-all exchange that reflects the frustrations felt by all sides at the lack of a more legitimate and acceptable process for resolution of conflicts around conservation and protected areas. 

We look forward to your reactions, contributions, corrections, and engagement with these issues and opportunities, with the hope that this will stir a new direction in actions and donor investments.

Janis Alcorn

 For Reference:

The relevant IUCN resolutions taken at the past four IUCN Congresses can be found among all the resolutions found online at:

An analysis of their incomplete application was done in 2008 [33].

Particularly relevant among lesser-known resolutions are:

1.  Resolution 2-37. Support for environmental defenders (Aman 2000) offers wideranging support

2. Resolution 19.22, GA 1994 - “indigenous peoples and the sustainable use of natural resources” generally acknowledges the importance of the two covenants on political and civil rights and economic, social and social rights “according to which no people under any circumstances may be deprived of its means of subsistence”. WCC 1996 resolutions on indigenous peoples call on members to adopt the principles of ILO Convention 169 and comply with the spirit of the UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The 1999 “Principles and Guidelines on Indigenous and Traditional Peoples and Protected Areas” propose concrete steps for a rights-based approach to crafting protected area agreements with indigenous and traditional peoples. Resolution WCC 3.055 from IUCN’s Third World Conservation Congress “Indigenous peoples, protected areas and the CBD Programme of Work” reiterates the links between IUCN Policy, the Durban Outputs and the CBD as an international instrument on matters concerning the rights of indigenous peoples in protected areas." [34]   

 DISCLAIMER - This draft background paper does not necessarily represent the views of the contributors who provided information.  It has been developed to stimulate discussion about these issues with the hopes that something can be done to renew more socially-just conservation and ecologically-sustainable development.


1.         Fundraising strategies are described in the Little Biodiversity Finance Book released in Nagoyen, 2010, as a companion to the LIttle Climate Finance Book published by the Global Canopy Programme, and includes new packages for finance, including new "green bonds".  The Conservation Finance Alliance assists the big NGOs and government agency members, including the big 7 international NGOs and their national agency counterparts, to package biodiversity to generate billions of dollars in financing. Carbon is the latest commodity to be incorporated into WWF´s 2009 edition of their Guide to Conservation Finance.

2.        e,g., see recent Washington Post article noting that BP and its foundation have donated $9.6 million to the The Nature Conservancy over the last 30 years. The Conservancy also has given BP a seat on its International Leadership Council , yet In 2008 alone, BP spent $16 million to lobby Congress against conservation and regulatory issues. ... "Reputational risk is on our minds," Ward acknowledged.  See blog discussion between TNC and its members over this issue,

3.        World Parks Congress in Durban in 2004 was the first public display of this new alliance, including Achim Steiner´s controversional announcement of the IUCN partnership with Shell that was protested from the floor of the meeting until Mr.Steiner had the microphones for public comment turned off.

4.        e.g., A recently criticized activity of WWF is their role in the “New Generation Plantations Project” with tree plantation firms such as Forestal Oriental, a subsidiary of Finland’s UPM/Kymmene operating in Uruguay; Portucel, which has operations in Uruguay; Smurfit Kappa Cartón, an Irish-Dutch company operating in Colombia; and the Swedish-Finnish Stora-Enso, whose operations in Brazil and Uruguay are the object of controversy.  They are also involved in controversial partnerships with agroindustrial corporations, including the Responsible Soy RoundTable with Monsanto, Syngenta, Cargill, Bunge, ADM and others.   In both cases, the social and environmental impacts of these activities are myriad and questionable.

5.        e.g., WWF, TNC and collaborators have a new project, patterned after WWfs successful ecoregion mapping project used to raise millions - the HydroSHEDs project.  The goal is to support digital mapping, regional and global analyses, and freshwater conservation planning (thus opening a new frontier for conservation NGO financing).   HydroSHED is supported by Diversey, Inc., a global diversified corporation which recently added interests from Clayton, Dubilier and Rice (an equity investment firm with interests in water) into an older corporation built on Unilever and JohnsonWax.  In 2009, WWF received a $1million grant from Diversey for developing a Global Water Round Table  to "establish global standards for water stewardship", linked to the Alliance for Water Stewardship which includes TNC and others;  Pearce, F,  Greenwash, Are coke´s green claims the real thing? Guardian, Thursday  4  December 2008, " After making a big contribution to the coffers of the World Wildlife Fund, Coca Cola has been pledging to the world that it is going "water neutral", .. a group of water scientists, including Richard Holland from WWF and Greg Koch, Coke's managing director of global water stewardship, wrote a "concept paper" about water neutrality. Coke is not promising to be water neutral wherever it operates .., it will ´replenish´that water somewhere else. ... One route will be by funding WWF to protect watersheds round the globe. ..  for instance, claim to be water neutral if [they] pumped dry a village aquifer or a vital oasis in a desert – and then put the same amount of water back into a rainforest river. Like, say, the Mekong, one of the rivers included under Coca Cola's watershed programme with WWF."

6.       cf., Alcorn, J.B. and A.G.Royo, 2007, Conservation´s engagement with human rights: traction, slippage or avoidance, Policy Matters 15:115-139 ; annual reports of the big 7 conservation NGOs.

7.        cf Alcorn, J.B. and A.G.Royo, 2007, op.cit.

8.        cf Springer, J. and J.B.Alcorn, 2007,  Strengthening WWF Partnerships with Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, WWF, Washington DC and Gland, Switzerland.,  A review of the oldest indigenous peoples policy  (WWF) showed limited change in actual implementation over the first ten years (1995-2005) that the policy had been in place.  The policy served as a visionary PR document but it was not integrated as a core guiding principle; it was implemented an optional policy for use at the discretion of country programs, and little budget or staff time was invested in training in how to apply the policy during implementation.  The review recommended additional capacity building among staff.

9.       Veit, P, 2010, unpublished studies from Eastern Africa; Veit, P., R. Nshala, and M.O. Odhiambo,  2007, Securing Africa’s protected areas: democratizing land acquisition procedures, World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C., others.

10.     The Business and Biodiversity Offsets Programme (BBOP), is an international partnership of partnership between corporations, governments and conservation organizations to explore biodiversity offsets.   Pilots include work with mining companies in culturally diverse areas in sites such as Ghana and PNG where the BBOP protocols were tested, including analysis of the species upon which people depend for livelihoods, and necesities for resettlement and "relocation of cultural sites".  The tenurial and human rights impacts of these projects are unknown, as they are not yet implemented.

11.       Agrawal, A and K.Redford, 2009, Conservation and displacement, an overview, Conservation and Society 7(1):1-10.

12.      Curran, B., T. Sunderland, F.Maisels, S.Asaha, M.Balinga, L.Defo, A.Dunn, K von Loebenstein, J.Oates, P.Roth, P.Telfer and L.Usongo, 2010, Response to `Ìs the displacement of people from parks only ´purported´or is it real (Schmidt-Soltau. 2009), Conservation and Society 8(2):99-102.

13.      set at CBD COP 2010.

14.      e.g., Proteus database controlling the worlds data on biodiversity linking UNEP with Shell, Repsol, Rio Tinto, BP and others ; for an example of the problems with these businesses, see case study of REPSOL , Carrion, J. and M.Gavalda, 2007, REPSOL YPF un discurso socialmente irresponsable, Agora Nord-Sud, Spain;

15.      For the 2010 CBD Nagoyen meeting in October, CI pushed an agenda that focuses on bringing at least 25 percent of the world's land and inland waters and 15 percent of marine areas – guided by a prioritization system based on their Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs). CI sees this as linked to payment for ecosystem services schemes, while the NGO could expand their work in certification.    The Wild Foundation has promoted this concept under the slogan: "Nature needs half." They propose an alternative REDD mechanism would provide funding to qualifying projects existing within established and recognized Connectivity Conservation frameworks (or corridors, because UNFCCC is committed to the REDD process, this mechanism would be housed within the CBD umbrella.)

16.     Alcorn, J.B.  2005.  Dances around the fire: Conservation organizations and community-based natural resource management.  Pages 37-68 IN J.P.Brosius, A.Tsing and C.Zerner, eds, Communities and Conservation: Histories and Politics of Community-Based Natural Resource Management, Altamira Press, Walnut Creek, CA.

17.      e.g., P.Veit unpublished WRI studies; Conde Naste November 2010 articles on Masai; Maanda Ngoitiko, Makko Sinandei, Partalala Meitayaand Fred Nelson, 2010, Pastoral Activists: Negotiating Power Imbalances in the Tanzanian Serengeti, pages 269-288, in F.Nelson, ed, Community Rights and Conservation and Contested Land, Earthscan, London; others.

18.      The CCBA, for example, led the development of the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity (CCB) Standards, which enable private-sector companies, multi-lateral funding organizations, and government agencies to screen land-based carbon projects and identify those representing the highest-value and least-risk investments. The CCBA is "promoting the development of high-quality climate change mitigation projects that also incorporate biodiversity conservation and contribute to sustainable development."  The Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) members include The Nature Conservancy, Rainforest Alliance and WCS, as well as CARE and Conservation International´s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business.  Funders for the CCBA include Kraft, Hyndai, Intel, BP, SC Johnson, Weyerhauser, Blue Moon, and a UK based forest investment business called Sustainable Forestry Management,.   "SFM is building a global portfolio of forest-based enterprises with the help of commercial, financial, not-for-profit and multilateral partners including leading participants in forestry, bio-prospecting and eco-tourism. SFM's principal revenues will be derived from supplying and trading carbon dioxide emission credits and offsets in the carbon market and from the harvest of environmentally certified timber. SFM is a Katoomba Group member". It appears that via CCBA they are certifying their own projects.   

19.     Allegedly triggered by conservation NGOs fear for damage to their public image rising from the public accusations in Chapin´s 2004 article on "Challenge to Conservationists"; just as concerns for image triggered WWF´s development of their Indigenous Peoples policy in 1995.

20.    UN HR on NEPAL, Interamerican court findings; summarized in new IACHR compilation, 2010.

21.      Alcorn, J.B., A.Luque and S. Valenzuela.  2005.  Global governance and institutional trends affecting Protected Areas management: challenges and opportunitites arising from democratization and globalization.   IN Jim Johnson and  Diane Pansky,  eds, Governance of Protected Areas, Parks Canada, Ottawa.  . Session 1.1   ; Alcorn, J.B. A.Luque and W. Weisman.  2005. Nongovernmental organizations and Protected Areas governance.   IN Jim Johnson and Diane Pansky,   eds, Governance of Protected Areas, Parks Canada, Ottawa. Published on CD and on website.  Session 2.4

22.     c.f., Timko and Satterfield, 2008, Seeking equity in national parks: Experiments with evaluation in Canada and South Africa, Conservation and Society 6(3):1-17.

23.     World Parks Congress Recommendation # 16.

24.     Alcorn, J.B., 2005, Dances around the fire, op cit

25.     Schwartzman, S., A.Alencar, H.Zarin, and A.P.Santos Souza, 2010, Social movements and large scale tropical forest protection on the Amazon frontier:Conservation from chaos, Journal of Environment & Development 19(3):274-279.

26.    e.g., this comment from a conservation organization staff member in the Pacific, "There are some of us “practitioners” in this region that are definitely part of a counter-current, the BINGOs are using millions of Pacific destined dollars to achieve very little of benefit to Pacific Islanders or even their vision of conservation. Are the BINGOs filling the civil society niche by dint of size and competition that otherwise might have a lot more local and grass roots organizations?

27.     Schwartzman, S., A.Alencar, H.Zarin, and A.P.Santos Souza, 2010, Social movements and large scale tropical forest protection on the Amazon frontier:Conservation from chaos, Journal of Environment & Development 19(3):274-279.

28.     e.g., " Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MLPAI) is a top-down process with a clear conservation goal (the establishment of marine protected areas or MPAs) championed by major conservation groups (NRDC, Sierra Club, Ocean Conservancy, Baykeeper's, etc.) that sidelined social justice issues, marginalized tribal communities, alienated local constituents, and led to embittered accusations of "Big Green." Frustrated by the process. local governance agencies, tribes and tribal communities, and civic groups banded together to achieve more comprehensive conservation goals than those championed by the aforementioned "conservation" groups, ultimately passing resolutions that were supported by dozens of county boards of supervisors, city and tribal councils, commercial and recreational harvesters, divers' groups, etc. At the end the conservation organizations also signed on to the widely supported plan, but only after burning many relationship bridges and losing valuable opportunities for collaboration. personal communication, J.Pfeiffer, 2010.

29.    For example, this is an overview of relevant local resistance networks in Mexico in 2010, "Here in Mexico community resistance against big infrastructure projects and extractive industry is gaining daily support from other organizations, and repression from the different levels of government. Dams and mining projects are the most, but also industrial waste disposal, water pollution, highway constructions. These big development projects affect communities and their environment, and struggles are linking both.  There are also more conservation oriented struggles: communities refusing to be declared NPA instead of ICCA (Sierra Norte/Oaxaca), communities not wanting to report own conservation efforts (Sierra Norte/Oaxaca; Waxirikas-Huicholes/Jalisco,Nayarit), communities retreating from ESP programs, but maintaining local conservation (Cuenca/Oaxaca; Costa/Oaxaca). Community displacement from NPA (Montes Azules/Chiapas). The first type of struggles are organized in diverse thematic networks for example: Mining - Dams and Rivers:

 A national effort is also taking place integrating all the struggles in a National Assembly: Asamblea Nacional de Afectados Ambientales (ANAA) (under construction) which in turn is integrating regional assemblies: Guerrero and Veracruz are the first ones in place and working. ANAA will participate with Via Campesina at Cancun. ANAA will also include starting 2011 conservation struggles (Native corn protection, autonomous community conservation), in an understanding that communities are affected by environmental degradation but also when their environment is rich in biodiversity and awakens corporation and government greed.

Following some relevant struggles and links to news and analysis.

Pueblos contra la minería:

Waxirikas y la carretera y la proteccion de wirikuta

Temacapulin y presa el zapotillo

La Parota

Mineria en Chiapas

Montes Azules Chiapas

 Mineria en Oaxaca:

Minera San Javier

30.    Ostrom, E. and H.Nagendra, 2006, Insights on linking forests, trees, and people from the air, on the ground, and in the laboratory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 103, 19224–19231; Ostrom, E. ,2009, A general framework for analyzing sustainable social-economic systems, Science 325:419-422; Hayes, T. and E.Ostrom, 2005, Conserving the world´s forests: are protected areas the only way?, Indiana Law Review38:595-617; Nepstad D, Schwartzman S, Bamberger B, Santilli M, Ray D, et al. (2006) Inhibition of Amazon deforestation and fire by parks and indigenous lands. Conserv Biol 20: 65–73.

31.      McAdams principles for social movement success, as cited and discussed with examples in Alcorn, J.B., John Bamba, Stefanus Masiun, Ita Natalia, and Antoinette Royo.  2003.  Keeping ecological resilience afloat in cross-scale turbulence:  An Indigenous social movement navigates change in Indonesia. Pages 299-327 in C.Folkes, F.Berkes & J.Colding, eds, Navigating Nature’s Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,UK. 

32.    [1]  Note that accompanied the launch, December 2010: "Just Conservation website on Facebook ( This has been launched as a network for all who care about conservation and who want to see it achieved with justice, compassion, dignity and honesty. One of the hardest aspects of conservation related conflicts is trying to sift through the contested representations and understandings of what has happened to whom, who is responsible for any wrong doing, and who is involved. Often information is limited, opaque or comes only after much delay. We often hear about fait accompli, not ongoing struggles.  Part of the problem is that a good deal of this type of conflict is only reported in academic and conservation presses, or brought forward at large meetings where access is restricted.  This means that little of the resulting information reaches the general public. The purpose of Just Conservation is to provide a more accessible venue for providing information about these conservation conflicts. It is oriented in particular to conflicts which arise because of human rights abuses. It proposes that those directly affected by conservation should be able to raise issues of concern without the use of intermediaries. It allows anyone with access to Facebook via computer or mobile phone to do so. It also allows anyone to respond to them. We anticipate some messiness will result. In providing a more direct route to air grievances, and by avoiding mediating practices, we expect that these pages may be raw and blunt on occasion. Initial facts may not always be correct but by creating a public debating arena we foresee that errors will be spotted and rectified by those affected by them. We hope that it will alert the conservation community to any problems more quickly than might otherwise be the case; thereby creating a more inclusive debate about them."

33.    Colchester, M., 2008, IUCN Resolutions on Indigenous People, a Comparative Table.

34.    Larsen, P.B., 2006, Reconciling Indigenous Peoples and Protected Areas, Discussion Paper, IUCN, Gland.

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