On 16 October, the CPW released a joint statement on the wildlife management challenges that have emerged in the wake of COVID-19.
Over the coming weeks, we will explore each of the four principles outlined in the statement, and its relevance from a sustainable use and hunting perspective.
Here, we will take a closer look at the first principle:
“Recognize the importance of the use of wildlife for many communities, including Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs), in policy responses.”
COVID-19 has been disastrous for many people and communities around the world – this is particularly true for IPLCs.
It is therefore critical that IPLCs are integrated as part of any policies that are introduced in response to COVID-19 related wildlife management challenges.
This is of particular importance considering the fact that IPLCs are among the most vulnerable people within the context of current discussions surrounding COVID-19, namely calls for bans on wildlife trade and sustainable use.
Evidence has shown that a blanket ban on wildlife trade would negatively impact food security for millions of people, particularly in developing nations. As many people in these countries rely on informal food systems, such as wet markets, for both access to food and as part of their livelihoods, a ban that would deprive such communities from either of these things would be seen as an infringement on their human rights.
IPLCs should also be recognised for their role in achieving conservation objectives. Their specific roles in contributing towards conservation will be explored in the later principles, however, broadly speaking communities should be incentivised in order for them to fully engage in conservation work.
This can be seen in countries that use regulated sustainable hunting programs as part of their wildlife management strategy, which generate benefits such as direct income or the distribution of meat.
While IPLCs do play an important role in some existing conservation policies, more can be done to include them in all aspects of our society.
Despite several countries officially recognising the rights of IPLCS, in practice, there is often a lack of legal security of tenure for indigenous peoples in these nations, with many decisions being taken without stakeholder involvement.
The private sector has also been encouraged to take more responsibility, with the UN stating that the rights of IPLCs are often not granted sufficient respect by private entities operating in rural areas.
In conservation terms, there have been a number of “fortress conservation” approaches employed throughout the world, which fail to recognise the role that IPLCs play in rural areas. This is where protected areas are setup to function in isolation from human disturbance, under the assumption that human activity is harmful to conservation. This approach can lead to forced displacements, the destruction of livelihoods, loss of rights to lands, violence and more, for IPLCs.
This highlights the importance of this first principle as part of the CPW joint statement, which we hope will encourage those involved in conservation and sustainable use to support those most vulnerable in these difficult times.