14 July 2008

Beyond cuddles

Here in Indonesia, iconic images show the noble fight against poverty...Wild animals are largely irrelevant. Local community members on one of our orangutan conservation projects were puzzled as to why we didn't help them first -- for we are the orang utan ('forest people').
-- Erik Meijaard of The Nature Conservancy and Douglas Sheil of Cifor in Cuddly animals don't persuade poor people to back conservation, a response to a Nature editorial (21 May) which argues that "saving a handful of photogenic species — or iconic rainforests — is no substitute for a comprehensive plan that deals with climate, economics and the environment together." Meijaard and Sheil continue:
People in developing countries are seldom against conservation itself, although they may resent the conservation imposed on them. The hard slog of putting conservation into practice -- economic planning, land use allocation, calculation of environmental services, policies, sustainable financing and law enforcement -- must be translated into stories and symbols that translate across cultures...

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