Why conservation efforts in Papua New Guinea by rich people is obnoxious.

Biodiversity conservation is the activity concerned with preserving nature, the processes in nature, and the relationships that exist in nature.  

 Who determines what environment needs conservation?  Most conservationists advocate protection of the species while others seek to protect landscapes.

 Whatever decision is taken, it all comes down to satisfying human values: protecting or restoring an ecosystem service for the benefit of humans, protecting aesthetic values for human pleasure, for posterity value – especially in pharmacology for the benefit of humans, and protecting the inherent value of nature as deemed important by humans to satisfy intellectual curiosity.

 When conservation efforts is human centered, the underlying philosophy is that of a custodian.  Human beings elevate themselves above nature – they assume the responsibility of benevolent guardians to safeguard as well as reverse the negative impacts on nature caused by members of their own species.

The beginnings of conservation started with aristocrats – people who could afford to have servants which allowed them time to do activities that were outside of activities concerned with survival. Conservation activities are done by people who have achieved self-actualization as per Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

This is why conservation, a pastime of the aristocrat in the west when taken and applied to the poor people of the world including Papua New Guinea is obnoxious. It will not work. The contrast in life style silently screams, but crusaders pay no attention. Living in rural Papua New Guinea is about surviving; there is no time and space for becoming benevolent wardens.  

It is obnoxious because of the double standards. The westerners who brought conservation also brought in their criteria for development which is measured by amount of cargo accumulated and how plump a bank balance is for an easy life.  

It is obnoxious when the so-called eco-warriors flaunt their cargo, money and easy life and assume forest people are happy to live in grass huts, dress in leaves and provide the entertainment.

 It is obnoxious to want to preserve a land that provides a livelihood for the people without giving alternatives. Babies somewhere in the forest need to eat meat to grow big and strong, no one has the right to deny babies that right.

 It is obnoxious that conservation pays peanut when development needs real money.  Forest people like humans anywhere in this world have developmental aspirations too.

 It is obnoxious when rich people do not mind oppressing other human beings just because they can.

It becomes as act of terrorism on the human race when protection of wildlife becomes more important than the dignity and sacredness of human life.

 The notion for all-inclusive conservation will become reality when forest owner’s advances up the tiers on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Self-actualization will come about only when these forest people are satisfied with their station in life. Only then can they really and truly appreciate their role as custodians of nature. 

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1 Comment

  1. a mack said,

    August 22, 2014 at 6:34 am

    nice. Bear in mind I think there are a lot of rich people who *want* to do the right thing. But they are subtly misguided by people and organizations who have a vested interest in certain kinds of “conservation.” Many donors trust the “conservation professionals” but those professionals are just that… professional conservationists. And if you really want the rich to do the right thing, they will not invest in a bunch of professionals, but will invest in the actual people doing conservation– the ones taking care of their bush, maintaining no take zones on their reefs, etc.


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