Earth Minute: The Racism and Colonialism of Big Conservation Groups

On this week’s Earth Minute, GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann discusses the inherent racism and colonialism of big conservation groups promote the idea that “nature” should be separated from humans.

Transcript of the Earth Minute:

Protecting forests is widely touted as a solution to climate change.  But the top-down idea of “protected areas” is not part of the solution.

Chris Lang explains The idea of protecting wilderness originated in the US in the late 1800s”, mainly for elite hunts and scenic beauty. This postcard idea of “wilderness” did not include human presence. Establishing Yellowstone and Yosemite involved forcibly emptying the indigenous inhabitants; and established the conservation model now applied globally.

Big conservation groups promote the racist and colonial idea that “nature” should be separated from humans. Local communities are labelled “poachers” or “encroachers” and forcibly evicted or denied their livelihoods and cultures. If they resist, they face arrest, beatings, torture and even death, while rich tourists or hunters are welcomed.

What gives Conservation groups, based in the global north the legitimacy to decide how to best preserve a forest or a species? What about the knowledges of the communities that have coexisted with those forests and guarded them for countless generations?  These are the people with real solutions.

For the Earth Minute and the Sojourner Truth show, this is Anne Petermann, from Global Justice Ecology Project.

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