The hidden costs of conservation

Excerpt from report by Jerome Lewis, Dept of Anthropology, London School of Economics - Minority Rights Group: "...The Batwa were not informed or consulted on the nature or terms of their eviction. No provision was made to assist the expelled families to find land or alternative sources of income. At a stroke, their culture, spiritual practices and hunter-gathering way of life were outlawed. Nothing can compensate Batwa for the loss of their forests. No other environment can provide them with the same economic, social and spiritual well-being...Despite risking beatings, fines and imprisonment if caught, the Batwa’s dependence on the forest is so fundamental that they cannot stay away from it. Batwa feel persecuted by this denial of their rights, and find it increasingly difficult to access forest resources. Without assets or independent means of production many now live in extreme poverty. It is estimated that up to 50 per cent of those expelled from the forest have died, and among those that remain infant mortality is much higher than in other groups...

‘ ..Since we were expelled from our lands, death is following us. We bury people nearly every day. The village is becoming empty. We are heading towards extinction. Now all the old people have died. Our culture is dying too.’ - Mutwa man from Kalehe, DRC..."

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