Non Governmental Organizations | NGOs India | NGOs in Bangalore | NGOs in India

There are still a large number of communities
in the region, inhabiting remote areas, in close
proximity to nature, practising traditional farming,
fishing, agricultural and forestry techniques.
Conserving the environment is a part of their way of
life. The age-old traditions and experiences of these
communities (usually termed “indigenous people”)
can help improve the efficiency of resource use and
it is for this reason that a number of NGOs build on
traditional or indigenous knowledge systems. These
knowledge systems are researched and disseminated
so that the wider public can learn from them.

Major groups in indigenous communities
themselves are also active in environmental
protection. An example which illustrates how local
indigenous groups are actively involved in
conservation work, is Soltrust, one of the major local
indigenous organizations in the Solomon Islands
dedicated to promoting sustainable forest
management, where logging operations are a major
concern for both the government and the indigenous
peoples. Despite many awareness campaigns on
sustainable development, both the number of logging
companies, and the unsustainable rate of harvesting
of timber resources have been increasing. Established
in 1986, the group’s more recent work has involved
the Rarade Community of the Isabel Province, and
island province that has been out of reach by loggers
until recently. A partnership between Soltrust and
the community was created as a model for future
eco-forestry activities, not only in Isabel and in the
Solomon Islands at large, but also for neighbouring
countries facing similar situations (United Nations
1998).

In many parts of the region, rapid
industrialization, the development of suburbs and
the conversion of land for agricultural purposes has
encroached upon the traditional homeland of
indigenous people. At the same time greater numbers
of indigenous people have either become displaced
because of development or have moved into urban
areas in pursuit of education and/or employment.
This has resulted in the reservations and sanctuaries
shrinking in size and often being hemmed in by
developmental projects, with negative consequences
for their once pristine environment. However,
indigenous groups are now beginning to organize
resistance movements. In Australia, for example,
aboriginal communities in states such as Queensland
have joined forces with environmental groups to
prevent the further depletion of their land and forest
reserves by logging and mining concerns. In New
Zealand, people of Maori descent have banded
together to assert claims to their land and also to
protect them from further environmental damage. A
number of tribes have petitioned the courts in order
to reclaim their tribal lands. In the northern part of
Thailand, the increasing mobility of traditional people
poses a serious threat to the “sustainability” of the
hilltribes distinct cultures. The threat comes from
the influx of consumerism, lack of land security and
large migrations to the cities. In order to counter
these threats the “Inter Mountain Peoples Education
and Culture in Thailand Association” (IMPECT) was
founded with the intention of supporting, promoting
and revitalising the traditional belief systems,
agricultural traditions and cultures of the hilltribes.
To make the children and youth proud of their
culture, the relationship between the traditional
lifestyle and the conservation of their natural
surrounding has been promoted through a locally
developed curriculum. In response there has been
an increased feeling of the value of traditional
knowledge among the children and youth in the
target villages.
The close links between some NGOs and
indigenous communities, especially vulnerable
groups, also provides for the representation of such
groups at the national and international levels. This
is important for resolving issues, especially those
related to globalization and its homogenizing
influences that endangers indigenous cultures and
cultural diversity.

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