Conservation

Millions of forest-dwelling indigenous people in India to be evicted

Critics say supreme court ruling constitutes ‘mass eviction in name of conservation’

Millions of Indians face eviction after the country’s supreme court ruled that indigenous people illegally living on forest land should move.

Campaigners for the rights of tribal and forest-dwelling people have called the court’s decision on Wednesday “an unprecedented disaster” and “the biggest mass eviction in the name of conservation, ever”.

The ruling came in response to petitions filed by various wildlife conservation groups, which wanted the court to declare the 2006 Forest Rights Act invalid. The act gives forest dwelling people the right to their ancestral lands, including those in specially “protected” areas that contain sanctuaries and wildlife parks to conserve wild life. The groups told the court that “tribal” people in 20 states had encroached illegally on these protected areas, jeopardising efforts to protect wildlife and forests.

See full story at the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/22/millions-of-forest-dwelling-indigenous-people-in-india-to-be-evicted

A woman sits with her belongings after forest officers demolished her house during an eviction drive on the outskirts of Gauhati, India in August 2017. Photograph: Anupam Nath/AP

A woman sits with her belongings after forest officers demolished her house during an eviction drive on the outskirts of Gauhati, India in August 2017. Photograph: Anupam Nath/AP

EGM: Conservation and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 23-25 January 2019 Nairobi, Kenya

Every year, the Indigenous Peoples in Development Branch within the Division of Inclusive Social Development of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs organizes an international expert group meeting (EGM) on a theme recommended by the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and endorsed by the Economic and Social Council. In 2019, the expert group meeting will be held on the theme “Conservation and the rights of indigenous peoples” as recommended by the Permanent Forum at its 2018 annual session.

Indigenous peoples play a crucial role in the conservation of the environment. They make up around 5% of the global population and occupy, own or manage an estimated 20% to 25% of the Earth’s land surface. This land area holds 80% of the planet’s biodiversity and intersects with about 40% of all terrestrial protected areas and ecologically intact landscapes. While the expanse of protected areas nearly doubled from 8.7 million sq. km. to 16.1 million sq km. between 1980 and 2000, some estimates suggest that 50% of protected areas worldwide have been established on lands of indigenous peoples.  This proportion is even higher in the Americas, where it may exceed 90% in Central America. The lands of indigenous peoples are very valuable for conservation as about 65% of them have not been intensively developed, compared with 44% of other lands.

However, indigenous peoples’ custodianship of the environment and ecosystems, and their rights to land and housing are unrecognized.  They face the negative impacts of conservation programmes, which often have been based on the concept of protecting natural resources and biological diversity, while excluding human beings from these areas. Since the creation of the first State-designated protected area, Yellowstone Park, in the United States of America in 1872 and the subsequent Yosemite National Park in 1890 whereby the US government violently expelled Native Americans living in or dependent on the resources in the areas, conservation interventions around the world have far too often resulted in gross violations of the rights of indigenous peoples, in particular to their rights to land and housing. This includes forced displacement and evictions from their territories; criminalization and destruction of livelihoods; loss of rights to lands and resources and sacred sites; violence and extrajudicial killings of environmental human rights defenders which have spoken out on behalf of their own indigenous communities Millions  of indigenous persons have been dispossessed and displaced due to the exclusionary approach of protected-area management built on the premise that human activities are incompatible with conservation.  This approach is often referred to as ”fortress” conservation.

Learn more about the EGM: Conservation and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 23-25 January 2019 Nairobi, Kenya.

Article source: UNPFII

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