Worlds of Difference: Local Culture in a Global Age

Credit: Jonathan Miller

The “Worlds of Difference” radio series was produced by Homeland for national broadcast on public radio stations in the USA. It used both radio and the internet to generate awareness of how people with strong local traditions are responding to the pressures and opportunities of rapid cultural change. continue reading–>

Strengthening Culture and Conservation Through Intangible Heritage and Performing Arts: The “Dance for the Earth and for Her Peoples” Initiative

credit: Robert Wild

The concept for the “Dance for the Earth and for Her Peoples” initiative originated at the 2003 World Parks Congress and has been taken forward by the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and the Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP) through the Theme on Indigenous and Local Communities, Equity and Protected Areas (TILCEPA) and the IUCN Task Force on the Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas (CSVPA. The objective of this initiative is to explore the role of community performing arts in strengthening the conservation of biocultural diversity, especially in Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs). continue reading–>

The Language of the Environment: A Comparative Environmental Thesaurus

The “Environmental Applications Reference Thesaurus” (EARTh) project, carried out by the Institute for Atmospheric Pollution at the National Research Council in Italy, is developing an advanced tool to be used for environmental information management and environmental policy and research. The project’s aim is increasing awareness among policy makers of the complexity of the environmental domain and of the cultural dimension of environmental knowledge. Thesauri are controlled vocabularies designed to allow for effective indexing, classification, cataloguing and retrieval of information. They consist of a network of semantic relationships, by means of which a representation of the meaning of each thesaurus term as well as of the conceptual structure of a knowledge domain is provided. Thesauri can be regarded as “semantic road maps” for information indexers and searchers and for anybody else interested in a systematic grasp of a given field. Existing terminological or knowledge organization systems at the international level do not provide an adequate and updated account of the environmental domain. To meet the present needs of environmental information management, more refined semantic structures are required, in the form of thesauri. continue reading–>

Training Indigenous Agro-Forestry Agents in Acre, Brazil: Indigenous and Modern Technologies for Sustainability

Credit: CPI/Ac archives

The Amazon region has largely been perceived as a boundless territory with unlimited resources to exploit. Due to its low population density, it has been viewed as an “empty space” to be colonized and to be integrated into the national economic landscape, and thus as a key to Brazil’s progress as a “modern” nation. During the 1960s and the 70s, the military government promoted a media campaign to encourage private owners to invest in the Amazon region – the national slogan was “a land without men, for men without land”. This resulted in marginalized farmers from the poorest regions of Brazil moving into the Amazon rainforest in quest of a better life. Over the past 35 years, the forests of the state of Acre in the western Brazilian Amazon have also been adversely affected by large-scale Brazilian economic interests, backed by financial resources obtained from credit institutions and by Brazilian government incentives for the establishment of large cattle ranches, the exploitation of hardwood, and agricultural activity. These incentives have led to considerable concentrations of private property, and serious conflicts have resulted from land takeovers, which have provoked confrontations between the “new owners of Acre” and the local indigenous populations and rubber extractors. This has led to a progressive loss of biodiversity and a scarcity of traditional sources of protein, which is evident in the increasingly deficient diet of the indigenous peoples in these areas. continue reading–>

Protection of an Indigenous Reserve: the Ka’apor People of Amazonian Brazil

The Ka’apor emerged as a people with a distinctive identity about three hundred years ago, probably between the Tocantins and Xingu Rivers in the Amazon Basin. They later engaged in a long and slow migration that took them into Maranhão State, in eastern Amazonian Brazil, by the 1870s. One hundred years later, in 1978, the Alto Turiaçu Indigenous Reserve (called Terra Indigena Alto Turiaçu today) was demarcated by Brazil’s National Indian Foundation (FUNAI). The reserve covers about 5300 km sq of high Amazonian forest and is inhabited by all remaining Ka’apor as well as by some Guajá, Tembé, and Timbira people. The Ka’apor, like many other settled Amazonian groups, are a horticultural people whose staple is bitter manioc. They grow about fifty domesticated plants, which are used for food, seasoning, medicine, fibre, tools, and weapons. In addition, they hunt game and gather fruit in the dense forests and fish in the tiny creeks of the reserve. Since the late 1980s, as much as a third of the reserve has been illegally deforested and converted to towns, rice fields, and cattle pastures by landless peasants, cattle ranchers, loggers, and local politicians. The present situation is marked by tension and escalating violence. Raids on indigenous villages by squatters and loggers and counter-raids by native people on squatters’ and loggers’ camps inside the reservation have occurred since 1993 with at least two fatal casualties. continue reading–>