Encroachment by large-scale users

Large-scale competitors, such as timber firms and fishing trawlers, and large- scale acquisitions and projects such as plantations, and mining, oil and other energy ventures, are also quite important threats. In a few cases, the presence of large companies can be traced back to colonial times or authoritarian governments (Pinkerton, 1993; Brownhill, 2007; Powell, 2017), but in the majority cases it is linked to governmental reforms and economic policies that precisely support these kind of initiatives, i.e. market and corporate-oriented (Alburo-Canete & Canete 2013; Altamirano-Jimenez, 2017; Garcia-Lopez & Antinori, 2018).

In some cases, the intrusion of large-scale users is promoted by the government on the basis that they make efficient use of the resources. That is the case, for example, of the Limpasa Sugar Company in Mankhambira, Malawi, where “national level government officials particularly argue that the company is one way of productively utilizing the idle land that will help address critical foreign exchange shortages” (Chinsinga et al., 2013: 1076). In other cases, encroachment by large users just responds to short-term rent-seeking. The progressive concentration of land in the hands of a few large cattle ranchers in Acre, the Amazon (Diegues, 1998) is a good example. Other examples are the intrusion by Indian trawlers into Northern Sri Lankan marine borders (Scholtens, 2016); or the development of the prawn industry in Lake Chilika, India, featured by “unscrupulous traders and middlemen (...) politicians with their musclemen, a handful of big business families of Orissa and their local middlemen termed as “mafia”, and finally, the big industrial houses” (Pattanaik, 2003: 57).

Finally, it is important to note the association of the large-scale users to issues of elite capture and corruption. In Nigeria, “the state received oil revenues, which were massively channeled to corrupt politicians, civil servants, intermediaries, contractors and motley hanger” (Turner & Brownhill, 2004: pp. 32-33). In Canada of the 1990s, “the major multinational timber companies, which leased Crown forests under long-term license agreements, played a major role in the development of forest policy and guidelines for forest practices” (Pinkerton, 1993)

Encroachment by small commercial users

A less visible but still important impact is the arrival of small, heterogeneous users in large numbers. These are in most cases non-subsistence users (i.e. commercial or recreational users) who reside outside of the communities. As pointed by Nguiffo (1998) with regard to the Southern Cameroon forest sector: “Poachers are professional hunters who live on selling their catch; they are not natives of the hunting grounds and have no obligation of respect to the hunting grounds or to the rules for the hunting period or local hunting taboos. They hunt to satisfy the ever-growing demand from urban centres, not the limited demand of forest inhabitants” (p. 109). As with large users, small users are motivated by short-term rent-seeking; however, they count on the favor of governments as much as large users do, and just reflect gaps and contradictions in the implementation of development and conservation policies. In Ecuador, the growth of farmed shrimp over mangroves all across Ecuador reflected “a blatant contradiction between the laws protecting the mangroves, and the practices on the ground. As a result, shrimp farming developed illegally with the implicit approval of the government as it would have been impossible to produce so much shrimp with so few concessions granted” (Veuthey & Gerber, 2012: 614).

Political rights policy

This driver relates to inheritances from colonial and/or autocratic governments in newly independent or democratized countries. Those inheritances mean the perpetuation of certain stereotypes about rural, resource-dependent communities. In Indonesia, the fall of Suharto’s regime barely changed the colonial- inspired designation of rural communities as “isolated native groups” that need to be pushed from primitive livelihoods into civilization (Li, 2004). The new government’s “official program designed to civilize such people views them as generic primitives, occupants of a tribal slot which is negatively construed. Their ethnic or tribal identities, cultural distinctiveness, livelihood practices, and ancient ties to the places they inhabit are presented in program documents as problems, evidence of closed minds and a developmental deficit that a well-meaning government must help them to overcome.” (p. 344). Inheritances also can mean the continuation of certain understandings of what the “public domain” is, and certain modes of socio-economic organisation. In Colombia, the central government considered the extensive mangrove areas in the southern part of the Pacific coast as ‘areas of public interest’ rather than community territory (Oslender, 2004). In the El Tule village and many other rural areas in Mexico, the “Hacienda” model of agricultural exploitation (large-scale, private plantation that provides employment to members of surrounding communities) has become socially accepted over time despite its colonial foundations (Lynn, 1998).

The driver also manifests itself in the failed restitution of political rights in post-colonial democracies. In Peru, “successive democratic governments have failed to make progress in respecting and promoting the rights of Indigenous peoples, especially the rights of the Mapuche. Under the Indigenous Pact (adopted in 1989), they have committed themselves to recognising Indigenous peoples, (but) the government’s core policy has amounted to an ill-defined land restitution plan, combined with development programs and monetary compensation, the overall goal being to prevent an Indigenous insurgency.” (p. 3). In New Zealand, the 150-year plus effort of the Maori community “has resulted in limited Crown attempts to address historical grievances. There has also been limited recognition, in law, that the unique and valuable knowledge of Maori and their rights to self-determination must be protected.” (Rixecker & Tipene-Matua, 2003: 256)

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