Protected Areas

Protected Areas

Significant changes have taken place in international conservation policies in the past decade. There is growing awareness and recognition of the role of Indigenous peoples and local communities in the management of protected areas designated by governments, and, equally, of the importance of sites, territories, and landscapes governed and managed by communities themselves. The contribution of these communities to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in and around protected areas is gradually being recognized by international protected area law and policy, particularly under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Programme on Protected Areas (PoWPA) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation and World Parks Congresses. Of particular importance is Element 2 of PoWPA, which focuses on governance, participation, equity, and benefit sharing.

Yet this paradigm shift from exclusionary protection towards inclusive participatory models and local governance poses many challenges. Integrating governmental and private conservation institutions and management approaches with local values and customary governance systems is a complex task for all actors involved. It involves multifaceted issues of rights and responsibilities, land tenure, contemporary and customary knowledge, relevant institutions, and sharing of costs and benefits. It also goes to the heart of both individual and collective rights as enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Especially within the context of Indigenous peoples’ conserved territories and areas conserved by Indigenous peoples and local communities (ICCAs), the empowerment of communities is critical to achieve environmental and social outcomes. All too often, the official recognition of the conservation value of ICCAs and their incorporation into national protected area systems is achieved through the imposition of new institutions that undermine the very customary governance structures and biocultural values that sustain the ICCAs in the first place.

Additionally, under the influence of rapid economic, demographic, and cultural changes, the traditional knowledge, values, and practices linked to ICCAs are often being abandoned or degraded.

Natural Justice is working with a range of partners to recognize and support ICCAs, and to support Indigenous peoples and local communities to better engage with existing protected areas to which they live in close proximity and national protected areas systems, where appropriate. Biocultural community protocols are one way in which communities can play a role at this interface of these issues, assisting Indigenous peoples and local communities to assert their biocultural values and rights to engage with protected area authorities and protect their traditional knowledge. In particular, Natural Justice is working with the ICCA Consortium to coordinate a multi-country legal review of laws that support or undermine ICCAs, as well as contributing to the development of a Protected Area Governance Toolkit (with a focus on PoWPA Element 2) and a CBD Technical Series on ICCAs.

For more information about past negotiations of the Working Group on Protected Areas under the Convention on Biological Diversity, please read IISD reports and analysis. For more about BCPs and protected areas, please download the following publications:

 

Publications

Indigenous and Local Communities and Protected Areas: Towards Equity and Enhanced Conservation (Borrini-Feyerabend et al., 2004)
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Implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and International Human Rights Law through the Recognition of ICCAs (Stevens, 2010)
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Sacred Natural Sites: Guidelines for Protected Area Managers (Wild and McLeod, 2008)
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Protected Planet Report (UNEP-WCMC, 2012)
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Protected Areas in Today’s World: Their Values and Benefits for the Welfare of the Planet (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 2008)
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The Value of Nature: Ecological, Economic, Cultural and Social Benefits of Protected Areas (Mulongoy and Gidda, 2008)
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Videos

Biocultural Community Protocols: Articulating and Asserting Stewardship (Moving Images & Natural Justice, 2012)
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Rooibos Robbery: A Story of Bioprospecting in South Africa (Steps Southern Africa, 2012)
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Maldhari Biocultural Community Protocol Photo Story (Sahjeevan & Natural Justice, 2012)
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Latest Publication


Biocultural Community Protocols: A Toolkit for Community Facilitators
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Images from our work in Africa, Asia, and the Americas
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