Dr. Marcia Dieguez Leuzinger - The investigation of Aboriginal co-management arrangements for protected areas - 2 February

The creation in Brazil of environment protected areas (IUCN I and II categories), or ‘conservation units’ on public lands which are inhabited by traditional populations involves a serious conflict between environmental conservation and the protection of these groups’ cultural rights. This occurs because, in accordance with the SNUC Act 2000 (Law nº 9985), the permanent presence of human populations within national parks, ecological stations and biological reserves is prohibited. This causes, in the case of traditional peoples, transfer to a place which is agreed by the parties. Due to the strong sense of territoriality, the transfer of these groups to another area means, in general, the group's disintegration and the loss of cultural heritage.
The adoption of ‘joint management’ models between government agencies and traditional groups, as used in Australia, is a possible solution to the problem. Different types of joint management, also called co-management, are used in some Australian protected areas. Each arrangement has peculiarities, and can involve either strong or weak agreements between official agencies and Aboriginal communities, in terms of the rights and interests of the Aboriginal land users. Memoranda of Understanding for Joint Management - MoU, Indigenous Land Use Agreements - ILUAs or Lease Back Agreements are three of the several types of joint management agreements in various Australian States and Territories. The implementation of joint management does however encounter difficulties, sometimes including mistrust by official conservation agencies of traditional knowledge and, consequently, of the ability of traditional peoples to manage protected areas and natural resources. When co-management is successful, it involves a trade-off between the rights of traditional communities and the interests of the official environmental agencies. Each stakeholder gives up a portion of his powers or interests in favor of finding a solution to potential conflicts over the area. Therefore, although there are problems in relation to joint management, many benefits can also be identified. Joint management, practiced in different forms, could be applied in Brazil to help solve conflicts between traditional populations living in public conservation units.