Sauce for the Goose? International and Intranational Conservation Policies

Many thanks to Bob Berwyn for this post. For a long time I have wondered about the difference between the way some elements of the conservation community believe that locals in the international sector should be treated, compared to the way that some think locals in our own country should be treated. Or maybe the conservation groups are different? It does cause one to wonder, though. Certainly, indigenous people have been the focus for some of this international work; however, if that were the case it would also raise some interesting questions in this country.

I think this topic is worthy of further discussion. What bothers some folks about the prevalence of litigation as a policy tool, is that it can remove the locus of control from decisions made by those interacting with locals, to national organizations. In fact, Hoberg (can’t remember which paper off the top of my head, maybe someone on the blog remembers?) suggests that that was a conscious strategy by some groups to remove the great “timber wars” debate from the Pacific Northwest and their elected officials, with whom these groups disagreed. Which could explain part of the reason some local folks feel disenfranchised by that tactic; they were/are.

Here’s a link

and here’s an excerpt.

The work by the IUCN is more directed toward forests in developing countries with indigenous populations, but the results of the study may also have some application in more developed parts of the world, where local communities have a significant stake in the management of forested areas.

“A first step is to recognize that many forests and landscapes are inhabited by people with some form of land rights,” said Chris Buss, Senior Programme Officer for IUCN’s Global Forest and Climate change Programme. “Investors are increasingly aware they must respect these rights through recognized processes, although the practical implications of such processes have until now received less attention.”

The current investment and management process often simply results in compensation for loss of access to land or resources — a neocolonial model — rather than a genuine shared enterprise. In contrast, a “rights-based” system places local control at the heart of the process. Under this system, the people who own or have rights over the forest are the ones who seek investors and partnerships for managing their natural resource assets.

“The rights-based approach recognizes local people’s autonomy and their rights to determine the land’s destiny and to gain income from its effective management,” said Minni Degawan, Project Coordinator for KADIOAN, an Indigenous Peoples organization based in the Philippines. “Empowering local people to make decisions on commercial forest management and land, with secure tenure rights, the ability to build their own organizations and access to markets and technology can be a highly effective way of raising incomes and protecting forestry resources.”

“Communities, governments and investors all stand to gain from investing in locally controlled forestry. However, launching a commercially viable enterprise is not without its own challenges and requires adjustments to conventional investment approaches,” said Peter Gardiner, Natural Resource Manger for Mondi. “To facilitate this process, the Growing Forest Partnerships which includes IUCN and TFD, have developed a practitioners’ manual, to be released later this month, which offers investors and rights holders a step-by-step guide to negotiating commercial agreements.”

Note: there have been previous posts on this blog relating national and international; in a quick scan this was the only one I could find, on what happens when people are not in the forest.

10 Comments

  1. Not clearly and honestly laid out, but the inference here is that our poor local county administrators, and “local” sawmills (mostly very large, multi-state corporations), and other local people who have no direct connection with the national forests should be treated the same as native people who actually live in and wholly depend on the forest resources for shelter, food, medicinal plants, etc. The comparison is ludicrous. There is no comparison.

    How many times must we point out the obvious, that these are national forests and not for the exclusive or preferential use of the “locals”. Many decades ago it was common for district rangers to provide free or very low cost logs to local individuals (not corporations) for home or cabin construction on nearby private lands. This was a logical and minimal special use for locals that made sense in the previous century, but provides no precedence for what is inferred here.

  2. Congress passed the remedial laws, e.g., NFMA, in response to pressure from LOCAL folks upset about clearcutting on their LOCAL national forests. It was LOCAL hunters in West Virginia who protested clearcutting’s harm to wildlife. It was LOCAL folks in Montana who protested the Bitterroot’s mountainside terracing:

    The genesis of the controversy in the Northern Region began in 1963, according to Ray Karr. Karr was timber staff officer on the Bitterroot between 1963 and 1966, when, in spite of very strong local opposition, the Secretary of Agriculture approved declassification of those portions of the Selway-Bitterroot wilderness known as the Magruder Corridor. Local residents had organized a “Save the Selway” movement, led by Guy M. Brandborg, retired Bitterroot National Forest supervisor. Doris Milner, a housewife, served as secretary and became a leader of the group after Brandborg stepped down.

    It has always been the case that public land policy change finds its roots in the efforts of LOCAL citizens concerned about their government’s misbehavior. The notion that national NGO’s have some omnipotent strategy divorced from the interests of LOCAL constituencies is fantasy.

    • I think we have come pretty far since NFMA. I don’t think the folks who were concerned about the Monagahela and the Bitterroot could have predicted the complexities and arcanities of the case law on viability, monitoring, etc..1963-2012? Maybe the situation has changed in.. err..49 years?

  3. That’s one way of looking at it, Ed. Another way is to say “are property rights, when they are in the hands of governments, inviolate in a way that we would not accept from Joe’s Mining Company?”

    If you are a neighbor of a military base, you don’t count any more in determining its noise policies (affecting the environment) than someone thousands of miles away? If its policies have a negative effect on the local economy, is that different?

    Another way of saying it is “do local people who make their living from the forest have exactly the same rights as people who live in New York and do not?”

    Does it matter whether they are local or not (location); where their ancestors lived, or how much of a living a person gets from the area (say mushroom pickers from an urban area)?

    I’m just saying that we need to try to think about this clearly.

    Again, I don’t see the mills around here as “large” and multi-state; I saw the one in Montrose as “bankrupt” and “putting people out of work” and “making taxpayers pay more for fuels reduction because we can’t sell the trees” and “making us burn material instead of sequestering it in forest products.”

    In fact, I am glad that someone bought it, even someone from South Dakota!

    From The Watch a href=”http://www.watchnewspapers.com/pages/full_story/push?article-Montrose+Lumber+Mill+Purchased+and+Soon+to+Be+Operational%20&id=20055765&instance=secondary_stories_left_column”>here:

    “We are in the process of interviewing all of the employees as we speak,” Neiman said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “We have a management team interviewing and offering jobs. I am going to guess the direct number of jobs the mill will provide will be somewhere between 85 and 90. And then of course there will be jobs created on the timber side and that will spread out across the region.”

    Neiman Enterprises is a producer of Ponderosa pine boards, pattern, decking and industrial lumber. Neiman presently operates four facilities in South Dakota’s Black Hills, including Devils Tower Forest Products in Hulett, S.D.; Rushmore Forest Products in Hill City S.D.; and Spearfish Forest Products and Heartland Pellets both located in Spearfish, S.D.

    Large no, multi-state, yes, and I am grateful. Probably a lot of folks in Montrose are as well.

  4. There is much logic in your comments, Sharon. I would agree that a local who actually lives near or at the forest boundary has a right to comment and complain if necessary if has to bear some loss of value (visual, noise, smoke, etc.) because of actions on the Forest. Back in the 1980’s I once made a special effort to assist an aggrieved private in-holder to write an effective complaint against clear-cutting that was fouling his drinking water spring. He was an impacted local who was being abused and ignored by the district ranger, and he needed assistance, so knowing the process in writing appeals, I assisted.

    But coming from the present social settings in much of the interior PNW, most of the folks don’t know the difference between a chunk of private forestland on the hillside from national forest lands. And many (if not most) do not receive even a secondary or tertiary economic impact from forest management these days. So, should their “vote” count more in a letter-writing campaign instigated by some special interest group than some tree-hugger in Seattle?

    Having had to read hundreds of letters from the public back in the RARE II days, concerning efforts to identify roadless areas for possible set-aside from roading/logging, I often found much more significance and useful information in comments from non-locals writing from their hearts than I did in pro-forma letters from locals who were following some outline provided to them by others. And I can admit that a industry-originated petition signed by dozens and dozens of locals was given little weight in decision-making.

    Some personal bias may be showing. Still have clear memories of timber industry community leaders constantly requesting (and usually getting) private conferences with the forest supervisor. Or setting in on forest staff/timber industry conferences where the pressures from these people was disgusting clear… more board feet, less restrictions. Or else.

    • I don’t think it’s your bias perhaps as much as the timeframe. We used to have bullying behavior from (some) timber industry types. Now we have the same kind of bullying behavior from some “environmental” NGO’s.

      I looked at comments on Colorado Roadless from some person who had clicked a box that said “don’t destroy land” or some such thing, to local people who had specific concerns about specific places, so it can go the other way.

  5. “If you are a neighbor of a military base, you don’t count any more in determining its noise policies (affecting the environment) than someone thousands of miles away? If its policies have a negative effect on the local economy, is that different?”

    My first reaction to this as a metaphor was that it was a bad fit.

    But then, I recalled from personal experience, the 24/7 noise problems associated with day and night-ops fighter-bomber training exercises on Whidbey Island (which you sometimes can hear on the waterfronts of Everett and other suburbs north of Seattle). Public concerns about the window-rattling are simply responded to by our government with billboards announcing, “Pardon our Noise, It’s the Sound of Freedom”. (Please do not confuse our greatly attenuated commercial aircraft noise with twin engine afterburners capable of mach 1.8 in play here.)

    Locals have no more say in that noise than the “non-combatant” luckless souls in far away places simply reduced by our government to “collateral damage”.

    And then, (from direct personal experience again), I realized this was a perfect metaphor, because it helped to expose the fallacy of the premise that ” the people who own or have rights over the forest are the ones who seek investors and partnerships for managing their natural resource assets.” This has not worked out well in the scattered rural native villages of Southeast Alaska where federal land protections do not exist. (And talk about collateral damage…!)

    Despite the limitless resources for public outreach through greenwashing media saturation of the issue framed simply as “Communities, governments and investors all stand to gain from investing in locally controlled forestry” — there exist historical facts which demonstrate otherwise. It also raises a very important question: ” How is it that indigenous rights to forestland ownership requires outside investments from profiteering partners in the first place?” They don’t of course. Again, there are far more examples of this “partnership” not working out well, than the public outreach claims would otherwise suggest.

    This premise is based upon the assumption that there is no intrinsic value to the natural landscapes which have sustained indigenous cultures for millennia. That assumption is not true. In fact, such landscapes gain value over time as undeveloped landscapes become increasingly more rare, and cultural practices on those lands become increasingly foreclosed upon.

    The truth to this premise and its dissembling framing is that, “undeveloped,” increasingly rare landscapes are prime targets for profiteering “partner” investors. This false corporate premise assumes since, “We’ve got the cash, and indigenous people have the raw commodities for development — ergo, it’s a “win-win”, “happily ever after” fait accompli.

    The history and foreseeable future of the effects of ANCSA settlement of indigenous land claims in Southeast Alaska tell a vastly different story, as do the palm oil plantations of the Phillippines, Amazon Basin, and elsewhere.

    The fact is, while it may be true that “The current investment and management process often simply results in compensation for loss of access to land or resources — (is) a neocolonial model…” — “Communities, governments and investors all stand to gain from investing in locally controlled forestry” — is only resulting in the familiar imposition of the neoliberal model instead.

    That model has a whole planet’s worth of collateral damage to reference.

  6. But I would argue that, say, grazing Euro-animals is a “traditional cultural practice” for the last 100 years or so, yet there are folks who have targeted that practice with the intent of it being “foreclosed upon.”

    It’s also about allowing the legal owners of the land (Native Corporations) to do things we don’t agree with, because they have right to do that (either more towards development or more not). If we were their neighbor, we could say “hey, you are affecting me, stop that”.

    My point is that there is a complex tension between property rights, the rights of neighbors, if any, and how the landowner’s rights can be for good or ill in local communities.

    • ” grazing Euro-animals is a “traditional cultural practice” for the last 100 years or so, yet there are folks who have targeted that practice with the intent of it being “foreclosed upon.”

      Say that if you must, but the 100 years to which you refer still represent a tiny fraction of several millennia of sustainable cultural practices which preceded it.

      Regardless, the consummate foreclosure which initiated the practice of grazing Euro-animals in North America was traditionally, religiously, and culturally-inspired genocide. The neoliberal model only represents the latest incarnation of that traditionally, religiously, and culturally-inspired genocide.

      Defend the neoliberal culture if you must, but personally, I prefer to advocate for a departure from such traditions.

      The Native Corporations of which you speak are the quintessential expression of the success of cultural genocide, as they have chosen to commodify and deconstruct the very forests so essential to what it means (or once meant) to be Native.

      This deconstruction has occurred at great cost to ecosystems and the people depending upon them adjacent to national forest lands within our archipelago. (Unless I’ve misunderstood your point), you are quite wrong — we cannot say (nor can even Native Shareholders say,) “hey, you are affecting me, stop that.” We cannot say that because of the nature of the Native Corporate board structure and rules which thwart shareholder initiatives to break the existing hegemonic grip.

      As for an excellent example of how such false claims touting, “the rights-based approach (which supposedly) recognizes local people’s autonomy and their rights to determine the land’s destiny and to gain income from its effective management,” please see the latest post by Chris Lang

      “Controversy surrounding Australia’s Kalimantan Forest and Climate Partnership REDD project deepens”
      By Chris Lang, 11th September 2012

      (Here’s an excerpt of a letter from “Local communities from the project area and Indonesian NGOs wrote to the Governor of Central Kalimantan Teras Narang pointing out the inadequacies of the Evaluation and the ongoing problems with the project.)

      “This creates a situation whereas the community is merely (an) object of the project, while project developer and operator decide, arrange and implement the project. Lack of genuine community’s participation led to the project experiencing lack of control and accountability, intransparency with regards to information and funding, and project operator making decision single-handedly.”

      http://www.redd-monitor.org/2012/09/11/controversy-surrounding-australias-kalimantan-forest-and-climate-partnership-redd-project-deepens/#more-12901

  7. “Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, says that creativity doesn’t happen in our heads but in the interaction between our imagination and our social context. It’s a matter of experience and response,
    a matter of relationship to others and a commentary on the significance of our encounters.

    Creativity is the vivid expression of who we are in the world–our imagination begets our thoughts, our thoughts beget our words, our words beget our actions, our actions beget our experience, our collective experience and expression begets our culture.

    Each of us is contributing to the creation of the cultures we participate in.”

    http://labs.huffingtonpost.com/highlights/quote/1342348/

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