The problem is that the approach to conservation and natural resources in Peru, which many government agencies and some NGOs use, is discriminatory and violates the human rights of indigenous peoples, specifically their rights to their territories, lands and natural resources.
In the case of Protected Natural Areas, instead of excluding indigenous peoples, who are often the groups with the longest and most extensive history of conservation, government agencies should recognize their enormous contribution to the protection of these territories and these forests.
They should ally themselves with these indigenous peoples, against the true enemies of conservation, which are the companies that promote the unlimited expansion of oil, mining, logging and agro-industrial concessions.
In one of the latest reports by the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, this senior official recognizes that indigenous peoples have the right to the territories they traditionally occupied, even if over them protected natural areas have been established (they call them protected areas)
This report questions the conservationist model behind the Law of Protected Natural Areas and behind the approach of many government agencies, which not only ignores the rights of indigenous peoples, but also makes them invisible and expels them from their territory.
This report realizes that the new paradigm of protected natural areas is the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and the joint management of these by indigenous peoples and the State.
What the Rapporteur says in a recent report:
1. Conservationists are unaware of the contribution of indigenous peoples to the conservation of forests
“Indigenous peoples maintain strong spiritual ties with the plants, trees and animals that live on their lands, and for them, protecting their territories is a sacred duty. Indigenous peoples, however, may not call themselves ecologists, and for this reason the conservation community is largely unaware of what they contribute to conservation. Furthermore, it is increasingly recognized that indigenous peoples' ancestral lands contain the most intact ecosystems and provide the most effective and sustainable form of conservation. Studies have been done showing that the territories of indigenous peoples who have obtained land rights are significantly better preserved than adjacent lands. However, the important role played by indigenous peoples is still not properly recognized. According to the World Conservation Monitoring Center of the United Nations Environment Program, in 2014 less than 5% of the world's protected areas were managed by indigenous peoples and local communities ”. (Victoria Tauli, Report, paragraph 15)
2. Indigenous peoples have been displaced from protected areas
“Conservation activities were traditionally centered at the state level and based on the expropriation of lands that later came under government control. After being displaced, indigenous peoples were deprived of autonomy and access to the natural resources necessary for their subsistence, and traditional and spiritual ties with ancestral lands were broken. Marginalized and impoverished indigenous peoples have continued to fight for access to their territories and land tenure, which has led to permanent friction and conflict ”. (Victoria Tauli, Report, paragraph 16)
3. The problem: The exclusionary and isolationist model behind the regulations on protected natural areas. Protected areas are created on the basis of expulsion from their territories
“This exclusionary and isolationist approach to protected area management spread across North America, reaching Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Russian Federation, and parts of Asia and Latin America. It remained the dominant model for more than a century and its state-centered legacy continues to significantly influence current conservation efforts. Although complete information can never be provided because exact records do not exist, there is abundant evidence that large numbers of indigenous people were dispossessed of their lands. In fact, according to estimates, millions of people could have been displaced around the world ”. (Victoria Tauli, Report, paragraph 35)
4. New paradigm of protected natural areas, based on the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples
“The World Parks Congress is the most important forum for the establishment of international standards and guidelines related to protected areas in the world. At the Durban Congress in 2003, the world's leading environmentalists announced a “new paradigm” for protected areas that would respect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. This important change in approach to conservation was adopted in response to growing public opinion that it was unfair for conventional models to exclude or marginalize indigenous peoples and local communities from the administration and management of protected areas. (Victoria Tauli, Report, paragraph 39)
- See document of the United Nations Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Report of the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz
By Juan Carlos Ruiz Molleda