OECMs: An opportunity to turn ‘coercive conservation’ upside down

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Fuller Symposium 2022 calls on new conservation approach to follow Indigenous People’s lead

People blindness is a long-standing critique leveled at conservation initiatives that historically valued plants and animals more than human rights. Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs) are one possible solution ‘for people and the planet.’ These sites promise an alternative to traditional protected areas — such as national parks — that will deliver long-term benefits for biodiversity and people through innovative and inclusive governance structures.

But are OECMs designed to deliver on their promises or do they risk the same conservation pitfalls? Speakers addressed this question at the 2022 Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) Fuller Symposium 2022 — appropriately titled “Challenging OECMs.”

“There’s no question that conservation with people is better than without,” began Anne Larson, Principal Scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF). “OECMs may be better than the Yellowstone model for biodiversity conservation, but we still need to address the coercive history of conservation initiatives being imposed on Indigenous Peoples [IPs] and local communities [LCs].”

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