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Forest-Dwelling Native Amazonians and the Conservation of Biodiversity: Interests in Common or in Collision?

Redford, K.H.
Stearman, A.M.
June 1993

Although concern for biodiversity and its conservation originated in the biological sciences, with growing international interest an increasing number of interest groups are claiming standing in discussions of the best ways to conserve biodiversity. One of these groups, formed by various indigenous peoples and their advocates, has repeatedly defended its claim to standing by stating that indigenous peoples are well equipped to conserve biodiversity. These claims have had far-reaching consequences, as millions of hectares of Amazonian forest have been deeded to indigenous groups, at least partially on the reasoning that such actions would conserve biodiversity. In this paper, we bring to the attention of the community of conservation biologists a group representing 229 native Amazonian groups comprising 1.2 million people in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, and Colombia. In a document entitled \"To the Community of Concerned Environmentalists,\" this group of indigenous peoples propose a broad template for cooperation between conservation biologists and the indigenous peoples of the Amazon Basin. Following reiteration of the statement, we discuss the fact that these two groups define biodiversity and its conservation in different ways, with indigenous peoples focusing more on preservation of general habitat characteristics and exclusion of extensive habitat alteration.

Publication type: 
Journal Article
Source name: 
Conservation Biology
Page numbers: 
pp. 248-255
Blackwell Publishing
Indigenous and Local Community Rights
South America