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Title: Rights, Conservation, and Co-governance: Indigenous-Parks Collaboration in Makuira National Park, Colombia
Authors: Berkes, Fikret
Premauer, Julia M
The University of Manitoba Department of Philosophy
Keywords: COLOMBIA
Date: 2012
Publisher: Natural Resources Institute Clayton H Riddell Faculty of Environment Earth and Resources, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, CA
Abstract: This thesis investigates the contexts, rationales, and practices of collaborative governance between Wayúu indigenous chiefs and Parques Nacionales (national parks authority) in Makuira National Park, northeast Colombia. The study looks into the Wayúu institutions for territorial governance, the Colombian policy frameworks for protected areas and recognition of indigenous rights, and key aspects of cross-cultural collaboration for park governance. The field research was based on an in-depth qualitative case study of the various actors involved in the governance of Makuira National Park. The data collection methods followed an ethnographic approach and included: document review, semi-structured interviews, participant observation, informal conversations, and use of existing qualitative data. The Wayúu people have a system of customary territorial governance that comprises institutions regarding ownership, access, use, and control of territory and its resources. Wayúu sacred and “dangerous” places in Makuira Mountains follow spiritual institutions for proper behaviour and respectful relations with dangerous beings of the world-other/invisible. The broader contexts of social-political and economic processes occurring locally necessarily affect Wayúu territorial autonomy, institutions and practices; thus, the Wayúu exercise their autonomy in relation to such processes. “Parks with People” policy seeks to make the ability of Parques Nacionales to govern in protected areas more effective through the recognition of indigenous territory, authority, and mutual collaboration. Co-government is approached as a “signature of agreements” by Parques Nacionales in Bogotá, as an “ongoing process” by the Makuira National Park staff and as an “alliance” by indigenous peoples. The formal co-government process, however, differs from its day-to-day practice. The relationship between Parques Nacionales and Wayúu authorities is strategic for both parties with recognition of Wayúu rights as the starting point. The insider bridging and mediating roles of Wayúu park staff not only facilitates cross-cultural respect, but also helps achieve more equitable relations by challenging the existing system. The findings of this study highlight the importance of collaborative approaches that address historically informed national and local contexts and conflicts; that also recognises territorial and self-government rights, and supports and builds upon local institutions for territorial governance and conservation. Local institutions and traditional management practices (commons and habitat taboos) are important components of a more inclusive and broader practice of conservation. In addition, the findings show how mediaton roles of Wayúu staff helps to make collaboration more horizontal. Finally, the findings provide for a more nuanced understanding of Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs). While indigenous territories do have protected features; they are combined with other territorial practices that can be regarded as “incompatible” with conservation by other actors. This limits the ability of ICCAs to act as leverage for recognition of the full range of indigenous rights. This study demonstrates that recognition of such rights should happen be at the constitutional level, and not attached to conservation objectives.
Project Number: 105407
Project Title: IDRC Corporate Awards 2008-2009
Access: IDRC Only
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