chapter  6
28 Pages

Protected Areas

The concept of protected areas continues to generate lively debate; but is it necessarily alive? Inside governing institutions the emphasis is on dispassionate analysis. Such analysis is called objective when, in fact, it generally serves the status quo. There is a protectionism framing the debate which has little to do with biodiversity or the emotional ties we like to associate with biodiversity. It remains to be proven that protected areas, or tourism in protected areas, deliver any real or lasting benefits. Many questions still need to be addressed first-hand by affected Indigenous Peoples via their Elders, in the context of sacred knowledge. Otherwise, we live inside a destructive intellectualism. We quibble over jobs or ownership, while life systems buckle. There is no consensus or reliable insight on mutual benefiting. Today, this unfinished business threatens the credibility of protected areas, causing tension over legislation and policy development. Governments are showcasing protected areas within their biodiversity portfolios. Meanwhile, Indigenous Peoples say that free and prior informed consent (PIC) is an outstanding legal requirement. The disagreement is over more than legality and political process; it touches every aspect of our humanity and how we choose to interrelate. One would assume that the common ground in this seeming standoff is biodiversity. But this very point is a source of contention. Is biodiversity primarily an economic term or is it a reminder to cultivate healthy, balanced relationships? Can economics be brought back inside the sacred circle of life? Who among us can fundamentally and passionately speak for life, in light of corporate globalization and how it desensitizes one and all?