Monday, June 6, 2011

Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas

A Bold New Frontier for Conservation

Indigenous peoples and local communities, both sedentary and mobile, have for millennia played a critical role in conserving a variety of natural environments and species. They have done this for a variety of purposes, economic as well as cultural, spiritual and aesthetic. There are today many thousand Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs) across the world, including forests, wetlands, and landscapes, village lakes, water catchment, rivers and coastal stretches and marine areas. The history of conservation and sustainable use in many of these areas is much older than for government-managed protected areas, yet they are often neglected or not recognised in official conservation systems. Many of them face enormous threats.

Fortunately, there is also a growing recognition of ICCAs and acknowledgement of their role in the conservation of biodiversity. The Vth World Parks Congress and the Programme of Work on Protected Areas of the CBD accepted them as legitimate conservation sites that deserve support and, as appropriate, inclusion in national and international systems. Some governments have followed suit. Others had already included them within their official Protected Area Systems.

Having played a substantive role in promoting the broad conservation policy reassessment mentioned above, individuals and organisations members of TGER, TILCEPA and the ICCA Consortium, with the support of SwedBio, GEF Small Grants Programme and GTZ, got involved in a process to:

deepen the understanding of the ICCA phenomenon with respect to varying historical/ regional contexts;
identify and support field-based initiatives where ICCAs can be crucially safeguarded, enabled, strengthened and/or promoted in practice; and support consequent national, regional and international policy.
On this site you will find a number of results and analyses generated by this process, as well as a wealth of downloadable publications relevant to ICCAs.

What are Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs)?

ICCAs are natural and/or modified ecosystems containing significant biodiversity values, ecological services and cultural values, voluntarily conserved by Indigenous peoples and local communities, both sedentary and mobile, through customary laws or other effective means. ICCAs can include ecosystems with minimum to substantial human influence as well as cases of continuation, revival or modification of traditional practices or new initiatives taken up by communities in the face of new threats or opportunities. Several of them are inviolate zones ranging from very small to large stretches of land and waterscapes.

Three features car be taken as defining charateristics of ICCAs:

A community is closely connected to a well defined ecosystem (or to a species and its habitat) culturally and/or because of survival and dependence for livelihood;

The community management decisions and efforts lead to the conservation of the ecosystem's habitats, species, ecological services and associated cultural values [even when the conscious objective of such management may be different than conservation per se, and be, for instance, related to material livelihood, water security, safeguarding of cultural and spiritual places, etc.].

The community is the major player in decision-making (governance) and implementation regarding the management of the site, implying that community institutions have the capacity to enforce regulations; in many situations there may be other stakeholders in collaboration or partnership, but primary decision-making rests with the concerned community.

The Significance of ICCAs

ICCAs are important complements to official protected areas (PAs) and can ply essential roles in PA systems:

They help conserve critical ecosystems and threatened species, maintain essential ecosystem functions (e.g., water security), and provide corridors and linkages for animal and gene movement, including between two or more officially protected areas.

They are the basis of cultural and economic livelihoods for millions of people, securing resources (energy, food, water, fodder) and income

They help synergise the links between agricultural biodiversity and wildlife, providing larger land/waterscape level integration.

They offer crucial lessons for participatory governance of official PAs, useful to resolve conflicts between PAs and local people.

They offer lessons in systems of conservation that integrate customary and statutory laws.

They are part of indigenous peoples and local community resistance to destructive ‘development’, e.g.
rainforests threatened by mining, dams, and logging industries, ecologically sensitive high-altitude ecosystems threatened by tourism, over-exploitation of marine resources by industrial fishing, etc.

They are based on rules and institutions “tailored to the context”, (bio-cultural diversity), skilled at adaptive management and capable of flexible, culture-related responses

They are built on sophisticated collective ecological knowledge and capacities, including sustainable use of wild resources and maintenance of agrobiodiversity, which have stood the test of time

They are typically designed to maintain crucial livelihood resources for times of stress and need, such as during severe climate events, war & natural disasters...

They play a crucial role in securing the rights of IPs & local communities to their land & natural resources through local governance – de jure and/or de facto

They can help prevent excessive urban migration

They can be the foundation of cultural identity and pride for countless indigenous peoples and local communities throughout the world

The global coverage of ICCAs has been estimated as being comparable to the one of governments’ protected areas (12% of terrestrial surface). Globally, 400-800 million hectares forest are owned/ administered by communities. In 18 developing countries with the largest forest cover, over 22% of forests are owned by or reserved for communities. In some of these countries (e.g. Mexico and Papua New Guinea) the community forests cover 80% of the total (Molnar et al., 2003). More land and resources are under community control in other ecosystems. By no means all areas under community control are effectively conserved (i.e. can be considered ICCAs), but a substantial portion is.

cover page of the ea icca english
available in English,Spanish and French
avaialble in English,Spanish and French 
rediscovering iccas in nepal cover for web

 the ccas in india - directory
partager le pouvoir front cover for the webPartager le Pouvoir: Cogestion des Ressources Naturelles et Gouvernance Partagée de par le Monde (2010) - 21 MB

"Protected areas and people: the future of the past". Article by A. Kothari (Parks  vol 17 no. 2: pages 23-34, 2009) 
guidelines english cover


cbd technical series 15 cover
front cover sharing power