November 2010

Reconnecting Nature and Culture
Tuesday 23 November 2010, 5:00 pm GMT (Online)

Presented by Luisa Maffi, co-author of Biocultural Diversity Conservation and Robert Wild, co-editor of Sacred Natural Sites, this free webinar organized by Earthscan explores: the concept of biocultural diversity; how to integrate cultural and spiritual values into conservation, tourism and heritage management practices; and how embracing the values of local people can increase the success of conservation and sustainability efforts. Register for the webinar … Download Earthscan press release [pdf] …

Combining TEK and conventional scientific data in forest management
Lucy Rist, R Uma Shaanker, E.J. Milner Gulland and Jaboury Ghazoul

Many forest communities possess considerable knowledge of the natural resources they utilise. This knowledge, by providing a source of baseline data or by filling information gaps that cannot be addressed through research, can inform scientific approaches to forest management, or provide novel management alternatives. Although the integration of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) with conventional scientific sources of information has been well validated, there remains little attention to quantitative forms of knowledge or to identifying specific benefits and challenges arising in this integration. An emerging management challenge in a Wildlife Sanctuary in Southern India represented an ideal opportunity to assess the role of TEK in forest management. The infection of a fruit tree by a native mistletoe poses significant livelihood and biodiversity impacts. Specifically we considered the efficiency of deriving information from TEK compared to scientific field studies, the potential of TEK to provide novel solutions to a management problem, the degree to which TEK could provide quantitative information, and the biases that might be associated with information derived from TEK. TEK complemented previously gathered ecological data by providing concordant and additional information, but also contradicted some results obtained using a scientific approach. TEK also gave a longer-term perspective with regard to NTFP harvesting patterns further suggesting that the use of diverse information sources may provide a more effective approach to assessing the status of harvested resources. Read the guest article …

Canada’s Statement of Support on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 12 November 2010

OTTAWA, CANADA: The Government of Canada formally endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, underlying, among others: that UNDRIP is an aspirational document which speaks to the individual and collective rights of Indigenous peoples, taking into account their specific cultural, social and economic circumstances; that, although it is a non-legally binding document does not reflect customary international law nor change Canadian laws, the endorsement gives the opportunity to reiterate the commitment to continue working in partnership with Aboriginal peoples; and the shift in Canada’s relationship with First Nations under the current government, and recent legislative and policy developments. Outlining their concerns placed on record at the time of the vote during the UN General Assembly in 2007, but highlighting that they have since listened to Aboriginal leaders and learned from the experience of other countries, they noted their confidence can Canada can interpret the principles expressed in the Declaration in a manner that is consistent with their Constitution and legal framework.

UNPFII Chair Carlos Mamani noted that the endorsement by Canada is an important step in the right direction towards building and strengthening the relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples within Canada. Read Canada’s statement … Read the UN release on Mamani’s statement …

Fifth Session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage
15-19 November 2010 (Nairobi, Kenya)

Some 400 representatives of States Parties to the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, observers and civil society are attending the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Committee. Consisting of 24 members elected by the General Assembly of States Parties to the Convention, the Committee is one of its governing organs. The Convention, adopted in 2003 and ratified by 132 States, recommends the protection of elements such as oral traditions and expressions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe and know-how related to traditional handicrafts. It is considered that they constitute a living heritage, which, when transmitted from generation to generation, give communities and groups a feeling of identity and continuity that is considered essential for the respect of cultural diversity and human creativity.

During the first two days, the Committee has inscribed four elements in the list of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding, including: meshrep (China); ojkanje singing (Croatia); the watertight-bulkhead technology of Chinese junks; and wooden movable-type printing of China. Several elements were inscribed in the representative list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity, including, among others: acupuncture and moxibustion of traditional Chinese medicine; falconry; flamenco; Indonesian Angklung; Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan, India; Kumiodori, traditional Okinawan musical theatre; Sutartinės, Lithuanian multipart songs; the Mediterranean diet; the music of the Bakhshis of Khorasan from Iran; the scissors dance from Peru; and traditional sohbet meetings in Turkey. Visit the meeting website … View live webcast … Read UNESCO’s release, 15 November 2010 … View the intangible heritage lists …

Rainforests, wildlife preserved by indigenous spiritual beliefs, 15 November 2010

CALIFORNIA, USA: New research within the native Wapishana and Makushi communities of Guyana suggests that indigenous cultural beliefs such as shamanism help preserve tropical forests and wildlife. The analysis, published in the September 2010 Journal of Latin American Geography, draws from a massive data set that tracks wildlife populations, hunting kill sites, and spiritually significant features of the landscape within a 48,000-square-kilometer area in southern Guyana. The authors recruited the hunters themselves to record much of the data. The data show that hunters avoid spiritual sites, potentially creating animal refuges. More than 99% of their kills occurred more than 500 meters away from spiritually significant sites. Read the article …

Eighth Latin American and Caribbean Indigenous and Local Community Capacity Building Workshop on the Convention on Biological Diversity including issues relevant to Article 8(j) Traditional Knowledge and Access and Benefit-Sharing: Caribbean Region
16-18 March 2011 (Georgetown, Guyana)

The workshop aims specifically at building the capacity of indigenous and local community women, in order to ensure their full and effective participation in the CBD processes, with a specific focus on Article 8(j) (traditional knowledge) and access and benefit-sharing. The CBD Secretariat invites interested indigenous and local community organizations to nominate representatives by sending to the CBD Secretariat, at secretariat(at), an expression of interest or nomination by means of a designation letter and curriculum vitae, by 15 January 2011. Participants will be selected on the basis of a fair and equitable sub-regional representation, past experience, as well as the ability to disseminate information arising from the workshop. Download the CBD notification [pdf] …

Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change
Zacharias Kunuk and Ian Mauro, 2010

Nunavut-based director Zacharias Kunuk and researcher and filmmaker Ian Mauro have teamed up with Inuit communities to document their knowledge and experience regarding climate change. This new documentary, the world’s first Inuktitut language film on the topic, takes the viewer “on the land” with elders and hunters to explore the social and ecological impacts of a warming Arctic. The film helps appreciate Inuit culture and expertise regarding environmental change and indigenous ways of adapting to it. View the video …

The Right to Education and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Lorie Graham, Suffolk University Law School Research Paper no. 10-61

This document is part of a larger study being conducted for the ILA Committee on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The study covers three independent, yet interrelated articles of UNDRIP: Article 14 on the right to education, Article 15 on the right to non-discrimination and accuracy in public information, and Article 16 on the right to media. This part of the study explores the contours of Article 14 and its articulation of individual and collective rights to education. This includes the right of indigenous peoples to develop and control educational systems that are consistent with their linguistic and cultural methods of teaching and learning. It also includes the right of indigenous individuals to have access to these or other similarly situated educational systems or programs. In addition to promoting and protecting indigenous ways of learning and teaching, the Article articulates a more general right of non-discriminatory access to all levels and forms of education within the State, thereby ensuring that indigenous pupils are placed on an equal footing with non-indigenous pupils. Finally, it ensures that any action that a State takes with respect to the education of indigenous individuals is done in partnership with indigenous communities. Read the paper …

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