Fortress Conservation

Netanya Escote with Jamie Dichaves and Keith Cari-an,
ASEAN Coordinator, Centre for Sustainability PH

Fortress conservation incorrectly assumes that biodiversity is best protected when areas and ecosystems are isolated from human settlement.

This exclusive, non-participatory method has resulted to indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) getting kicked out of their customary lands.

These inhumane outcomes happen despite a wealth of evidence showing IPLCs being more effective at conserving biodiversity. It is no wonder that key biodiversity areas are found to hugely overlap with areas they occupy.

The fortress conservation model can be characterized by three principles:

1. Local people dependent on the natural resource base are excluded;

2. Enforcement is implemented by park rangers, with the use a “fines and fences” approach to ensure compliance; and

3. Activities are limited to government-led and/or approved projects such as tourism, safaris, and scientific research.

There is no one approach to saving biodiversity. What should be clear, however, is that we need to reject human rights violations carried out in the name of conservation.

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