Crumb Trail
     an impermanent travelogue
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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

And someone is home.

[L]ittle is known about the comparative performance of inhabited and uninhabited reserves in slowing the most extreme form of forest disturbance: conversion to agriculture. In a paper recently published in Conservation Biology (2006, Vol 20, pages 65-73), an international team of scientists, led by Daniel Nepstad of the Woods Hole Research Center and the Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia, use satellite data to demonstrate, for the first time, that rainforest parks and indigenous territories halt deforestation and forest fires.

According to Nepstad, "Protecting indigenous and traditional peoples' lands and natural areas in the Amazon works to stop deforestation. The idea that many parks in the tropics only exist 'on paper' must be re-examined as must the notion that indigenous reserves are less effective than parks in protecting nature." . . .

The group used satellite-based maps of land cover and fire occurrence between 1997 and 2000 to compare parks and indigenous lands. Deforestation was 1.7 to 20 times higher along the outside versus the inside perimeter of reserves, while fires were 4 to 9 times higher. Indigenous lands clearly stopped clearing in high-deforestation frontier regions: 33 of 38 indigenous territories with annual deforestation greater than 1.5 percent outside their borders had inner deforestation rates of 0.75 percent or less. Few parks are located in active frontier areas (4 of 15 in the sample) than indigenous lands (33 of 38). But parks' and indigenous lands' ability to inhibit deforestation appear similar.

Indigenous lands occupy one-fifth of the Brazilian Amazon - five times the area under protection in parks ? and are currently the most important barrier to Amazon deforestation. Some conservationists argue that with acculturation to market society, indigenous peoples will cease to protect forests. But the authors found that virtually all indigenous lands substantially inhibit deforestation up to 400 years after contact with the national society. There was no correlation between population density in indigenous areas and inhibition of deforestation. In much of the Amazon, not only can protecting nature be reconciled with human habitation - it wouldn't happen without the people.

My emphasis. I think it's an important point, one that has implications for developed countries too. There is no better defense for resources than ownership and occupation, property rights if you insist, since those who depend on those resources for life and livelihood are motivated and ever vigilant.

posted by back40 | 1/25/2006 09:41:00 AM


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