Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year Conflict between Global Conservation and Native PeoplesFeb 15th, 2011 | By jgarrett | Category: 22-3: Food Sovereignty, Spring 2011, Media Reviews
By Mark Dowie
MIT Press (2009)
Review by Dr. James J. Garrett
This book investigates and documents the role that international conservation groups play in designating global “ecological hotspots” and then in some cases effecting removal of the original inhabitants to create so-called “protected areas.” Mark Dowie illustrates how fortress conservation, the total exclusion of humans, has thus become the operational philosophy of some of the world’s largest international conservation groups.
The book chronicles the long struggle that has occurred between the conservation movement and Native people over land, resources, and conservation practices. The author provides examples of arrogant, bullying, and sometimes violent tactics used against Indigenous groups on almost every continent to take their land.
This model has placed many Native societies throughout the world in jeopardy by turning them into refugees. There is increasing evidence that Indigenous people’s conservation practices contribute directly to high biodiversity, the very diversity that made the conservation groups want to set aside the area for protection in the first place.
I highly recommend this book because we all have a stake in global wildlife conservation. Indigenous people should read it to understand the nature of neo-colonial practices. I would especially recommend it to those who contribute funds to conservation groups so they can see how their gift may be spent or misspent.
Dr. James J. Garrett (Ho Hwoju Lakota from the Cheyenne River Reservation in SD) is in extension outreach and research in the Land Grant Program at Fort Berthold Community College in New Town, ND.