Current status: Accepting new applications on Global Health for Germany before 29 March 2017

  • Reserved!

    Exploring the interactions between nature conservation and indigenous peoples

7 to 10 billion dollars are invested each year in nature conservation, funding the creation of protected areas to keep biodiversity out of man’s destructive power. As protecting the nature has become a priority on the international agenda to combat climate change, our European leaders, UN representatives and conservation NGOs are meeting this September in Hawaii at the World Conservation Congress to discuss the best ways to preserve the wilderness and save endangered species. But the rainforest, the taiga or the desert, do not only host pristine fauna and flora. They are also home to millions of indigenous peoples who have been living there for millennia, protecting and depending on it for their survival. What happens to them when a protected area is created on their lands?

From the Dukhas in Mongolia, to the Bambuti in the Democratic Republic of Congo, through the Lickan Antai in Chile, indigenous tribes have managed their environment throughout the years and suddenly saw their lands grabbed for conserving it. Some are suffering from it, others rebelled, and some started negociating their share in those projects…

Through 3 different stories, "Reserved!" sheds new light on conservation: giving voice to the unspoken, hearing conservation’s choices, illustrating new ways of protecting both bio- and cultural diversity.

1- Mongolia,Tengis Shishged National Park: the Dukha people are Mongolia’s smallest ethnic minority, where fewer than 200 herders still practice reindeer herding. The area in which they live, the taiga, is a hotspot for globally significant biodiversity, is rich in natural resources and is therefore highly vulnerable to competing interests and pressures on land. In order to tackle this issue, the Government of Mongolia has created, in 2011, the Tengis-Shishged national park, and implemented various conservation policies at the national level. What impacts such policies (which includes hunting and grazing restrictions) have on the environment and on the Dukha's food security?

2- Chile, Los Flamencos National Reserve: The Atacama Desert is well known for its incredible landscapes and its endangered wildlife. It is a lot less known that the Atacamenos, an indigenous tribe, have been conserving and managing it for centuries, and still protect the archeological sites of their ancestors. When, in the 90s, the Government decided to create the reserve and develop the immense potential of the area, the indigenous peoples started negotiating their way in. 20 years later, they represent the first example of protected area co-management in Chile: they own and manage some of the sites, and some families now live on tourism. Is there a price to such touristic development?

3- Democratic Republic of Congo, Itombwe Natural Reserve: in one of the wilder forests of the world, in a region drained by conflicts, including the controversial Kahuzi-Biega National Park case, where thousands of pygmies were expelled in the 80s, local communities have decided to stand up for their rights, proclaiming: "Forest conservation will be done with us, or won’t happen". After initial distress and tension, the Itombwe people are now included in the reserve creation process as well as technically participating in the definition of the area’s limits.

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Project information

  • Locations
    Mongolia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chile
  • Duration
    9 months
  • Release date
    September 2016
  • Budget
    € 22310

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