In the Name of Conservation
- A Critical Analysis from
a Personal Point of View
ABSRACT OF CONTENTS:
During WWII, the imprinting years in Weisleithen, a remote, traditional Bavarian farm.
After the war (1948), first contacts to the conservation movement: the NGO “Bund Naturschutz in Bayern”, at Munich.
The years at the Classical School of the Benedictine Monastery of Ettal in the Bavarian Alps.
First travel to the ancient mountain village of Desulo in central Sardinia, 1955.
University years at Munich, protests against the municipality felling old trees in the city and against the “Flurbereinigung” – the devastation of the traditional countryside of Upper Bavaria, by the Ministry of Agriculture.
My distinct interpretation of “conservation”: withdrawal from “Bund Naturschutz”.
A Life Time for Conservation:
In 1957 the first expedition to the archipelago of the Northern Sporades in the Aegean Sea - the so called Deserted Islands.
My friendship with the fishermen Joannis and Mizo Florous.
Discovery of the island of Piperi and its colony of monk seals, the rarest mammal of Europe.
An ice-making maschine for the cooperative of fishermen and the eviction of the hatred gri-gri trawlers from the traditional fishing grounds of the archipelago.
The fishermen of Alonnisos converted to active protectors of the monk seals.
The first film about the monk seals and joint proposals for a Marine Park in the Northern Sporades. National and international promotion of the park proposal (“Odyssey for a Seal”).
Eleonora's Falcons and Auduin’s Gulls.
The dramatic events in the marine park until recently: invasion of the “seal protectors”; large sums of funds provided by the European Community vanish; the useless, rather counter-productive Ministry of Environment, the battle to preserve the large island of Kyra Panagia: moves against the owners of the island, the monks of the one thousand years old monastery of the Megisti Lavra on the Holy Mountain of Athos. Equally sucessful moves against a consortium of Greek ship-owners and Prince Saddrudin Aga Kan which collaborated with the abbot and other monks of the Megisti Lavra.
On the island of Crete 1961: My first passage through the now famous Gorge of Samaria.
Friendship with the family of Viglis in the ancient village of Samaria in the heart of the gorge.
Proposals for a National Park in the White Mountains including the entire gorge. Emphasis on a combination of preserving the natural and the cultural heritage.
The Greek government declares the park, but evacuates the people of Samaria and does nothing to preserve their historic village; it becomes derelict - within the “national” park.
Exploration of remote islands in the Aegean. Studies of the wild goats of Crete, Erimomilos and Gioura, with proposals for their protection.
In northern Greece 1979: By taxi with my children Matthias and Stephanie over 60 km on rough roads through wild gorges to the virgin forest of Rhodopi in the military zone at the border with Bulgaria. Discovering that loggers had just invaded the forest, with financial support by the World Bank. Quick return to Athens and an immediate official order to stop further destruction of the virgin forest as the result of the mediation by Lady Niki Goulandris and a meeting with Secretary of State Mr. Paleokrassas.
One year later return to the Rhodopi Mts.discovering that the logging had continued in one section of the forest. Immediate descent and calls to Athens: negotiations over the kitchen phone of the British Embassy during an official reception there, with Lady Goulandris. Final stop to any logging in this most important virgin forest reserve in the Balkans – as it is recognized now. For the lumbermen which had lost their jobs I had to find compensation…another example of my alternative conservation efforts.
In 1981 the first travel to the southern-most point of Europe, the island of Gavdos south of Crete in the Lybian Sea. Design of an integrated programme for conservation and rural tourism on this almost abandoned island which is probably the Island of Calypso of Homer, for the Minister of the Environment, Mr. Tritsis.
High level meetings at the ministry and a first conference on Environmental Policies in Greece by the O.E.C.D. Subsequently a mission to Jugoslavia to assess the conservation situation and policies under contract by the O.E.C.D.
In the same year 1981 travel to Christchurch to attend the annual IUCN conference. My membership in the Commissions of Ecology and Environmental Planning; foundation of the working group “Conservation and Traditioal Life Styles” in the ecology commission and foundation of the inter-commission task force ECOCULTURE – my serious attemps to conform with the conventional conservation movement and to introduce my concerns and alternative views about village based conservation there– with no success: my subsequent retreat from the IUCN conservation platform and my growing critical attidude against conservation NGOs in general.
After the IUCN conference, touring and talks with Sir Peter Scott in New South Wales.
More excursions with Sir Peter, in the Sultanate of Oman, together with Ralph Daly, the initiator of the White Oryx re-introduction to their former habitat, the Jiddat Al Harasis.
Filming and conservation work for H.M. the Sultan of Oman from 1983 to 1987.
Travels of discovery in the still little known and very traditional Sultanate: to the Wahiba Sands, Jebel Akhdar and Jebel Samhan, the Kuria Musia Islands off the coast of Southern Oman. The miracle of the SW monsoon: mist and drizzle rain in Dhofar. The cattle breeding Jebali tribe. Discovery of the natural oasis Ain Tembrok.
Mission for the Television Trust for the Environment to Thailand: filming and other promotion work against the projected Nam Choan dam in the rain forest near the historic bridge over the river Qwai, with the result that this project was cancelled by the Thai government.
Return to Oman: Film project “Green Desert”, about the antique aflay irrigation system with its channels cut deep underground into the rock – one of the less known wonders of the world. This film was distributed later to more than 50 mostly third world countries by the Television Trust for the Environment.
Comparisions between the marvellous adaptations of the Omani tribes to an existing desert and the Greek civilization’s making of a desert in the formerly moist and fertile Eastern Mediterranean region, by destroying the forests and excessive goat grazing. My campains against the goat in opposition to the very strong lobby of goat herders and in vain even against scientists supporting the goat and against EU bureaucracy granting subsidies for goat grazing. The expansion of pine forests of Greece as a result of habitat degradation by overgrazing and the subsequent disasterous forest fires. A battle with no end still…Feuds and amicable agreements with individual goat herders.
The example of the Holy Mountain of Athos with its dense forests and perennial streams: no female goats are allowed on the Athos peninsula for a thousand years so far. Green Bulgaria as another example: goats were banned by the Bulgarian king in 1928. Also Tito followed this positive example.
An Excursion into the History of Conservation:
The concept of protecting the utilized land, its soil, fauna and flora evolved very early in human society, at the stage of hunters and food gatherers already. I will present examples. It was a feed back response to the effects of over-exploitation of resources with the aim of preserving an ecological equilibrium that ensured future availability. At the base of this ability to react and adapt lies the communal structure of small communities at the early stages of mankind. Only within such fully bonded small communities the experiences of single individuals were accepted by and forwarded to future generations.
Traditions developed as an collective asset of rules and adaptive behavioural patterns of that specific communal unit on its own territory which its specific ecological conditions. Parameters like the limits in utilizing the land and its wildlife, the selection of sucessful crops and the negative effects of adverse land use methods, of ignoring the carrying capacity, were instrumental in creating new traditional rules and adapting the existing ones over uncounted generations. The survival strategy and the successful evoluton of the human species at these early stages rested largely on those traditions. They could be established and maintained only in the small communities with their full individual bonds through the physiological process of “communalization” – a term that I introduced in 1964 in my PhD thesis. The complex of traditions remained adjusted and dynamic only as long as the communities did not grow beyond the size limits of fully communalized, small units.
However, not all adverse patterns of land use were responded to, by corrections that became significant elements in future traditions. Over-grazing for instance caused desertification, but these adverse changes were too slow and therefore not recognized as after - effects of over-exploiting the limited resources. So there was no feed back, no change of land use and eventually entire tribes vanieshed out of that reason.
Traditions were the prime mechanisms of selection on the human population level until the communal units became too large and changes in society structure happened too fast. In the wake of rapid population growth the original individual bonds were replaced more and more by anonymous patterns of communication and bonding.
With the increase of populations size and the associated loss of communalization, there was no motivation anymore and no communal obligation neither to retain traditions: so both the much larger number of humans and their abandonment of traditional rules and patterns (which only were operational in small, fully bonded groups) caused the increasing environmental problems which then lead to an evolutionary response, the modern conservation movement that was imperative for the human species’ survival – regardless if we consider modern mankind as belonging to the same species or as a new species altogether. It originated from the urban society; it was not rooted on the village level.
Due to the speed of developments in modern human society there were serious delays in conservation responses, though, and the inventions of industrial machinery brought dramatic effects of habitat degradation and loss of harvested species and general physical living conditions, as we know; such delays are characteristic for the contuinung evolution in our species with its anoymous population orgaisation that lacks awareness of and the responsibilty to the former deeply rooted traditions in adaptive and diverse land use. Had the old system of responding to feed backs still worked, the industrial methods of land use may have been adapted as well with much less destructive effect on the environment.
Because of these delays and the alarmingly growing degradation of the biosphere, pioneer individuals proclaimed what all now recognize as the conservation movement. In the beginning it was, however, not so much the environmental degradation, pollution and climatic changes that were addressed, but rather the prevailing personal motives of those pioneers: above all the preservation of the remaining wilderness and wild species.Eventually the IUCN and soon thereafter the WWF was founded. Strategies were designed by a few prominent upper class personalities of mostly Swiss, UK and US background, Sir Peter Scott, Luc Hoffmann just to mention the two I met personally.
My personal views of the conservation movement:
I will describe some of my personal experiences with these elite conservationists.
And present the reasons for my growing concerns about their disregard of human elements in conservation and in particular their lack of understanding and integration of the village level and of its enormous potentials for introducing a new all-embrazing approach towards the biosphere and its future utilization alongside the essential means for conservation – analogous to the old concept of traditions…
The “fatal blow” to this modern conservation movement, the basic blockage to any lasting achievements happened in the first stages of its innovation already: it was the still maintained and largely unquestioned distinction between “protected” and”unprotected” natural ressources. No such discrimination existed in the traditial village society; the concepts and strategies there were balanced over the entire territory as one biosphere with its diverse ressources and adequately adjusted utilization. This general statement needs some diversification, though because of a deeply rooted adverse attitude against certain species like the wolf and other “noxious” species which were prosecuted already in traditional societies.
When the settlers or rather invaders of the American continent became too destructive (because the rooted rules were left behind in their old home lands), some eminent people stood up and in 1872 the first protected national park at Yellowstone was “set aside” – I regard this event as the Black Day in conservation history. Because from then onwards the Earth was split apart: the realm of so called protected areas and the much larger part of the unprotected surface of our planet. The well documented ruthless expoitation of the unprotected regions from then onwards had an excellent reason of excuse or even an artificially created promotor: instead of allowing evolution to create adequate behavioural patterns like in the traditional times, such adaptation and corrections were inhibited by the concept of setting aside conservation areas: the focus of conservation aims was on those areas only. But only 12 % of the Earth’s surface are “protected” and a still much smaller proportion of this marginal area is in fact protected, by state installed, armed wardens and by the incentive of tourism profit only. After decades of spreading one national park concept over the globe the problems in this uniform approach became alarmingly evident: this uniform concept does not work. There is only a minority of good examples worldwide. With the logic consequece that for instance in Indonesia where the state does not have the power nor financial ressources to control the protected areas, the illegal exploitation, logging above all now is focussed on these conservation areas. How can possibly the statutes of Yellowstone be imposed without regional adjustments to any culture and any country worldwide: there exists only one valid definition of “national parks” by the IUCN, and it is copied from Yellowstone…
In several chapters I will present sufficient examples of this wrong approach and of alternative approaches and proposals, mostly taken from the field work in PNG (the system of Wildlife Management Areas) and in West Papua. And I shall make sufficiently clear how such innovative concepts were sabotaged by the nature potection NGOs out of clearly egocentric reasons, against the very principles and aims which they had written on their banners.
The same criticism is put forward with regard to species survival: Instead of allowing evolution to develop an adequate approach towards all other species and their survival, the unfortunate discrimination between protected an unprotected fauna and flora gave free hand to the well documented devastating rate of extinction – EVEN within the framework of a so called protected species. Just one example: the European Commission in its Habitat Directive 92/43/EEC rules that the member states have to set aside Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) for the species listed in Annex II. When protesting against the erection of a new hotel on habitat of three rare reptile species listed in that Annex, the Directorate General for Environment DG XI replied: we are satisfied with the establishment of SACs for these species in other parts of Greece so we have no reason to intervene. My reply in protest: that approach is immoral. How can the Commission agree upon sacrifying one population of a protected species, because there is a conservation area for another population of the same species elsewhere in Greece! So what is proteced: the rather abstract entity of a species, or single populations of that species or its individuals? I have provided this example in more detail because it may demonstrate my critical attitude towards even the rather obvious practices and underlying philosophy of the modern conservation movement. At the time of writing up this summary I have not received a second written reply by the Commission yet. Clearly, the Commission is unable no provide a satisfactory answer. Here is my letter:
Directorate D – Water and Environmental Programmes
To the attention of Mr. D. Grant LAWRENCE
Subject: Implementation of Directive 92/43 on the Island of Thassos, Greece
Reply to your letter of 25 May, 2005 ref. DG ENV-D3/AN/pc D(2005) 10059.
Dear Mr. Lawrence,
…..No decision has been made yet by the authorities (Anaptixiaki Kavalas) wether or not the application of Mr. N. Kelaidis for a 60 % subsidy for his hotel project outside of the village’s boundaries will be approved. But I was informed by Mr. M. Skordas of the Anaptixiaki Kavalas that all the necessary permissions are in place. The forestry authority (Dasarchion Thasou) has issued a certificate that the land in question is a “private, agricultural property”. The archaeological department has stated that there is “no problem” and so on … this side of the matter is all but encouraging.
Equally the application of Directive 92/43 on Thassos Island is not satisfactory at all. The selection of Natura 2000 sites as listed in your letter by no means reflects an adequate consideration of the still existing but rapidy disappearing natural assets on the island. The environment of Kazaviti is only mentioned indirectly because of the plane tree woodlands which are found in the gorges near the village. This disregard it not a result of disappointing surveys, but rather reflects the fact that our natural landscape with its extraordinary biodiversity has never been surveyed in view of Natura 2000! I wish to point out that the highest number of species is found NEAR the village, in the belt of abandoned agricultural terraces: there a rich broadleaf forest has developed, the habitat for an overwhelming variety of wildlife. So it is fully misleading when the forestry authority classifies the land in question as “agricultural”; that description ignores the bio-history fully … I approached the representative of the Ministry of Envoironment at the Nomarchia Kavalas: no environmental impact study for the hotel project was made because of the misleading classification by the forestry authority.
We have clearly pointed out that the touristic attractiveness of Kazaviti are its traditional Macedonian architecture and the natural environment, the wild gorges and the forthcoming network of hiking trails. It is evident from the photographs that the hotel is planned at one of the most sensitive sites, in the open park woodland just beyond the gorge, fully visible from the village in a landscape which until now has fortunately remained totally unspoiled by any modern developments. There are archaeological remains of wine cultivation and metal processing since Roman times; all in all an immensely valuable asset for rural tourism. The hotel would diminish this potential considerably – how can such certain destruction of national, economic values possibly be the goal of the LEADER + programme? The community of Kazaviti only will experience negative effects. It is even doubtful if the Kelaidis family would have an economically feasible return. I have not been able to verify the existence of any professional feasibility study.
Moreover, the waste water problem remains totally unsolved (a pollution of the ground water aquifer in the gorge below is impending!), so are the problems of increased traffic, noise etc (see my letter to the Anaptixiaki Kavalas under Attachments). Our written objection against the project is already being formulated and the number of signatures is growing.
…..The unfortunate splitting of the biosphere in protected areas, on the one hand side, and the majority of unprotected regions on Earth, on the other side, is at the centre of my critical assessment of the modern conservation movement. So I am asking some basic questions that relate also to our problems here at Kazaviti:
How can the apparent arbitrary approach of limited provision of “protected” habitat and accordingly unequal chances of survival be justified? In the framework of SACs and of other categories of protected areas. Clearly the chances for survival are provided only for a fraction of the still existing populations of one particular species that is listed on Annex II or IV. Which parameters of distinction are applied? The three species listed on Annex II that live on the land of Mr. Kelaidis will have no chance of survival there. Who can tell me why that fact is acceptable in view of other populations being protected? No human being has the right to exercise such discrimination! What is considered in view of conservation objectives: “the species” as a rather abstract genetic entity or the living individuals that carry more of less identical genetic peculiarities and are therefore classified as belonging to one species? Does legal protection focus on the species, or on populations or on individuals? In my view it is not acceptable to ignore, rather sacrifice the existing populations of protected species on the land of Mr. Kelaidis because there are other areas where members of that same species found refuge. Regardless if these populations at Kazaviti have been registered or not (because no official survey was carried out yet). It is clear from this example that the existance of SACs in other areas reduces the chances of survival of the populations at this location here. SACs at other locations are actually the lethal fate for the listed species here. Can such a constellation be tolerated…I am also asking: where in Greece have SACs been established for the three species on Annex II mentioned above?
There are other moral and legal aspects as well: are the species listed on the Annexes of Directive 92/43 given special protection because they are “rare” or because they are living creatures. Is’nt the practice quite common to regard unprotected species as “second class”; besides: they may become “rare” very soon as growing pressures are exerted at them as well. It simply does not make sense how conservation works in this regard. In the old times when there was no conservation movement yet, when the concept of “conservation” was integrated as an entirety into the traditional systems of natural resource utulization, no such discrimination existed, no distinction was made between scarce and other wildlife – and conservation areas only were established in direct response to community needs and the local ecological effects of the land use practizes.
We are of course fully aware of the growing number of species getting rare and even extinct. In response to that continuing decline the modern conservation movement ventures, however, on very narrow and one-sided, legally questionable, shaky grounds.
I am not that much concerned about the violations of existing nature protection laws…It cannot be our direct concern. In other words: it is not so much a matter of violation or not of European law –but rather a challence of finding an adequate reaction to the actual threats to wildlife and habitats as we witness them here. I look at the scene rather from the angle of nature, of all the wildlife that lives here and there – where ever I went on Thassos and in other Mediterranean regions, in the jungles of New Guinea and in the deserts of Arabia. My approach is derived from the village level: it was not shaped at any high administrative level nor during the years of my academic career.
But still, we shall make use of the existing legal mechanisms, we shall file our complains even at the highest European Court of Justice, because we feel that it is not right what unfolds here at Kazaviti. Just because of that very basic reason! We also shall approach the media in due course.
If no subsidies are granted from the LEADER + programme, Mr. Kelaidis will not erect his hotel and all the wildlife of that place will be safe; it’s as simple as that…But we cannot decide what is being done with the funds allocated for the LEADER + programme. There we depend on the either wise or detrimental decisions by the empowered authorities.
With respectful greetings from Kazaviti,
The other grave impediment to an adequate evolutionary process was the artificially created deep gap between nature and culture in western society; I will follow up the history of our western philosophy, the meaning of “wilderness” and other urban, romantic visions which influended that early conservation movement. No conservationist within the commissions of IUCN would have thought to set up a conservation area in Egypt or in Bavaria with their cultivated landscapes. In this context I shall refer to the much wider philosophies of other societies, in Buddhism, in the so called primitive tribal civilizations for instance.
The positive message: evolution still continues and gradually fundamental changes shape up in the approach to conservation: already in the 1970s the old concept of nature protection widened to that of environmental conservation – out of society’s needs and demands, and not out of rather prophetic manipulation of single personalities as in the conservation movement until then. The growing environmental problems of mostly the urban society but also the devastating effects of modern agricultural practices, the imput of the “Flurbereinigung” and the use of maschinery and chemicals caused this reaction followed by a new environmental movement. The earlier conservation movement responded and widened their concerns, but not so much because of the pollution and destruction of human environment and the cultural landscape but because of their lethal effects on wild species.
The criticism from developing countries was not taken serious. Only when their pressure increased in the arly 1980s there was some, but certainly never sufficient response by the IUCN and its sister organisation WWF. The first Minister for the Environment in Indonesia, Emil Salim adressed a fundamental letter to the Commission on Ecology of the IUCN: “Why are tigers more important than people?” Nobody in the ranks of the Commission had an satisfactory answer to the problems of landless farmers on the overpopulated island of Java in face of the national park without any human population that was set aside for the last tigers there. I had the difficult task, together with Nigerian commission member Jimoh Omo Fadaka to draft a letter in response. Later we had very fruitful talks with Bapak Emil at IUCN headquarters.
It was evident for me from the beginning that the prophetic warnings and apocalyptic predictions of the Club of Rome were not taking into account the still ongoing evolution and adaptations of modern society.
But even still nowadays the old fashion philosophy and methods prevail. Held up both by the ministries of enviroment and other governmental agencies as well as their counterparts, the mostly urban NGOs. I shall sceen both these institutions and reveal scandalous examples with emphasis on the USA (including the Global Environmental Facility, The World Bank and the large NGOs WWF, Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy), Germany, Indonesia and Greece.
The presentation of developments in the USA – the “Alien Power” - will comprise a full chapter on its own: not just in respect to failures in conservation responses to over-exploitation, pollution and destructon of natural ressources, but also in view of innovations like the so called “conservation easements” and likely new developments in conservation in view of the new global economy and worldwide communication systems.
The example of Albania in contrast will illustrate the regional deterioration and chaotic conditions as we have to witness them also in the other former socialist countries of eastern Europe, during their strict regimes and even more after the collapse of these systems. Albania also demonstrates how the evolution of waste treatment gradually developed from a stage of no waste problem when the country was still closed, then the flood of imported articles and the total disregard of any proper disposal, until step by step a balance with the environment only recently is being reached again.
The NGO scenario is the dominant factor in these developments: It actually indicates the enormous vacuum on the side of govenmnet in the respect of nature conservation and environmental planning. Urban concepts prevail: despite of much empty talk about the empowerment of village society the trend remains unchanged: village people are excluded from decision making and even from much of the benefit of their own natural ressourses and they are kept off without compensation or participation from state controlled conservation areas on their traditional territories.
To a large extent this rapidly deteriorating situation is the result of colonial attitudes and practices in developing countries like Indonesia. I remember the methods of WWF regional representatives John MacKinnon in the 1980s: Playing gulf with governors and drawing the boundaries of new national parks and strict nature reserves on their office desk. And I remember a meeting of the IUCN Species Survival Commission when it was decided to send a retired US ambassador to president Marcos of the Philippines with the request to set aside a sanctuary for the Monkey Eagle: the reserve was estabished, but on native land and from then the local people hated the eagles being the reason for taking away their land: So more eagles were shot than before… It was and still is very frustrating to watch this development without innovation, with no alternative imput still.
And the public is receiving a much manipulated, actually misleading picture of the ever worsening situtation out there, for instance in Indonesia. Here I include an article which I was trying to distribute only last week; it was so far not accepted by any news network on the Internet neither in Papua nor in Indonesia:
“ So what has improved after “The Last Frontier” was published?
We all have heard about the large-scale sweeping investigative anti-illegal logging operation that is currently being performed in Papua under the name 'Operasi Hutan Lestari (OHL) II, in response to the EIA/Telapak report, The Last Frontier.
The public got the impression that at last something is being done against illegal logging in Papua. But what? The media still present impressive figures of how many logs have been confiscated, how many officials have been brought to court. The crucial question, however, remains in the dark, is not being asked with the necessary emphasis: has this very thorough EIA/Telapak report actually prevented the illegal cutting of further trees in the Papuan rainforest to the extent envisaged? How many of targeted forest areas actually have been saved by this campaign?
Those confiscated logs are lost for the forests, anyway, but the cutting continues. The same big names are in the game, some are being replaced by newcomers to the field – but with even more skills and better connections – and with more devastating effect.
I belong to the group of independent people who watch the scene for many years with growing frustration and despair. We have openly spelled out our deep concerns and detailed knowledge gathered during field trips. Our alarming message now is that only a fraction is true of what the public is made to believe after the “Last Frontier” : that something really effective is underway to stop the chainsaws in their lethal assault.
With growing indignation we watch those mighty NGOs like CI, WWF and TNC: why, by all means, is there no straight and tough action on the ground. Looking at the glossy websites of these NGOs one is gravely misled. There are maps presenting the boundaries of nature reserves, for instance in the Raja Ampat archipelago of western Papua. But no where is mentioned that all of these reserves exist only on paper and in actual terms they are rather unprotected and illegally exploited. Even KSDA (=the official nature protection agency) staff has supported profitable logging within their boundaries. The government turns a blind eye at the scene. It is to our opionion extremely counter-effective, against the aims of true conservation and rather irresponsible by any NGO to spread the few success messages in detail and address the devastating threats only in general, ever repeated phrases. Or not at all. Sweeping proposals of “world heritage” sites are presented while at the same time the bombing of the reefs continues, the magnificent iron wood trees (merbau) are cut down one by one and devastating bulldozers invade the truly Last Frontiers of virgin forest.
In Raja Ampat the forest still is being logged illegally, and the same people are involved. But would those big “conservation” agencies really take the risk of stepping up their protest? There are no indications for such ventures of revealing the truth. It might spoil their prestigous connections or may reduce their financial prospects. Not even the tip of the iceberg is presented. Calculated involvement is no involvement at all, because it is short of being in place when needed most. We have lost confidence in the big conservation NGOs. They create a virtual projecion of the reality out there and seem to be satisfied with presenting this manipulated, falsified images…
So what remains in support of conservation in real terms? The villages, the traditional forest communities only, and they are being cheated by the loggers and treated by the conservation agencies as if they were not sufficiently competent of managing their forest resources on their own behalf. The local people do not need the support of those mighty NGOs in this regard. All they need is justice and a fair treatment as equal partners – as fit stakeholders in the political power gamble. It is in this respect only that they depend on outside support. Because the major damage comes from their own people, the elite Papuans in high positions, their former brothers and sisters which have forgotten about their roots in the village and are never satisfied in getting more power and more wealth. Illegal logging is excellent business: so what can one expect! There is urgent need for setting up a “Forum for Dignity and Justice in Papua” which should focus on how Papuans handle Papuan affairs...
Enough of talking about illegal logging. Do your job and do it right. No further confiscating of illegal logs will save the rainforest. Rather stepping in - in an efficient, preventive way before and when it actually happens: Go to Pulau Waigeo, for instance, to Warimak village in Majalibit Bay. There for years illegal logging continues against the will and to the full disadvantage of the villagers. Some powerful players are accused of pulling the strings there. Mrs. Nelly Kasiepo-Wanma - spouse of Frans Kasiepo, the ex-walikota of Merauke, and relative of the recently stepped-down Bupati of Raja Ampat, Markus Wanma - is being named as the paramount player in the destruction of the forest there. As a matter of fact, the Wanma family has a long history of involvement in timber extraction operations on Waigeo, amongst others around Kabarei and in Fofak [Lam-Lam] Bay.
Investigate and bar the players, but above all: stop the chainsaws – only then we, the independent observers will be able to say: Well done for a change! Ony then there might be some glimpse of hope justified… We are not that much interested how the guilty ones are punished - jailed or not: all we want is that they are effectively prevented from carrying on, that the magnificent Papuan Rainforest will be safe from now. It is indeed the Last Frontier!
So clean up the ranks of the nature protection authority KSDA, as well: stop KSDA officials granting licenses in strict nature reserves for logging and gravel extraction and allowing the illegal animals dealers in Sorong and elsewhere to carry on with their dirty, lucrative trade…
…so do it then, and without any more delay; it’s overdue after all our revelations and reminders…” END OF ARTICLE (written in June 2005).
I distinguish three types of nature conservation NGOs: the “project” NGOs, like WWF and the others just mentioned in the article; the “action” NGOs like Greenpeace; and the open “movements” without any institutional structure like ECOCULTURE that I founded in 1981.
My sharp criticism is focussed on the “project NGOs”, because they introduce conservation agenda of their own making from the outside, with only marginal participation of the local people in designing these “projects”, according to the NGOs opinions for needs and purpose, and that imput is being maitained only for a limited period of time .. therafter usually the situation remains unmonitored. I shall provide impressive examples how the local situation got worse than it was before the “project” had started. The public, however, the donors are made to believe that something really effective and useful had been achieved. Who actually monitors NGOs, who has insight in their “success stories”, which NGO would critisize another NGO? It is an ever growing playground and disasterous scenario which much power and money involved!
The “action” NGOs had an efficient impact, on the environmental scene mainly until they got too rich, too lazy and lost their spirit… I believe that only the “movements” can really achieve a lasting improvement, because they are born and imbedded in society on the spot and on time as an element of the evolutionary process on a global level. The Internet nowadays provides the technical facility that is required for such a world wide communication platform.
Another chapter in this context will deal with “the values of wilderness”, of how narrow the economic views towards natural assets are even from the perspectives of those organisations which aim at preserving natural landscapes with their native flora and fauna intact.
The crucial question: why is nature conservation constantly on the retreat? Why are natural assets lost on and on, again and again, without replacement by adequate values?
I shall present the critical analysis first and then out of a clearer understanding of how the developments unfolded, I will come up with explanatory answers to those questions and I will provide a programmatic, feasible set of alternative propositions – of how the evolutionary process can be accelerated and directed … not delayed and irritated as till now.
New Guinea – My Adventure in Conservation:
In 1959, my first 8 months expedition to the Australian administrated Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
“Primitive” Papuans as the best conservationists.
Land tenure as the crucial factor in maintaining a balanced environment.
Shifting cultivation in the central highlands getting out of control because of population growth and external factors impeding the traditions of restrictive land use.
Further travels to eastern New Guinea.
My first comprehensive report ever presented: “Conservation in Papua New Guinea” of 1970. Development of the concept of Wildlife Management as an alternative to standard conservation approaches, in cooperation with Max Downes in PNG.
My WWF/FAO Mission to Irian Jaya in 1978 for the Identification of Conservation Areas. My critical comments in the report “Nature Conservation in Irian Jaya” about the division between protected and unprotected areas and species and the emphasis given to the village level led to a sabotage of this publication by WWF.
This Report was published in 1979, in English only. It contained my proposal for an integrated marine conservation area in Teluk Sarera (=Teluk Cenderawasih), the first of its kind. The catastrophic deterioration of this vast marine park began after WWF had adopted its management. Because the local guardians and owner comunities were prohibited access to their traditional fishing grounds in the so called sanctuary zone of the park and therefore illegal fisheries with dynamite by Bugis and other invaders expanded all over the reef areas unchecked. At the same time a so called management body of 40 employees sat idle in an office building in Manokwari.
From 1995 to 2003 I returned fourteen fourteen times to West Papua, mainly to the Raja Ampat Archipelago west of the Bird Head, off Sorong. At least three chapters will deal with the drama that unfolded there.
It began with setting up village foundations on Batanta and Salawati Islands. Support was provided by the German Embassy in Jakarta and by the Waschbaer Foundation of Gremany in erecting community owned ecotourism facilities with the aim of creating income for the village people from the intact forest and reefs. The fatal role of the German rainforest foundation Oro Verde that insisted in NGO partnerships and did not have sufficient trust in village community partners: Years of successful work were in vain. New approaches in collaboration with the German GEO schuetzt den Regenwald foundation. Drafting of a Joint Declaration of village communities and the conservationists (this is one of the historic documents that should be attached to the book in the appendix).
The success story of stopping the chainsaws and six bulldozers of a Chinese firm that was logging on Warir Island – habitat of the longest monitor lizard Varanus salvadorii and 5 other monitor lizards. Collapse of this support programme because (like Oro Verde earlier) GEO insisted that the agreement with the village land owners be handled not through direct partnership but through the inefficient NGO Ecopapua in Sorong town. Theft of GEO money by staff of that NGO. GEO reardless donates a speed boat for monitoring illegal logging – with no outcome at all. But on the websites of GEO and of Oro Verde foundations all these events read as great success stories…
The massive invasion of the Chinese – Indonesian – Malaysian logging mafia around the turn of the century. The ineffective “here and there” actions and the wave of publications about “illegal logging” rather made the massive timber theft and rain forest habitat destruction faily easy for the players on the timber market. Innovative solutions, for instance collaboration with several large forest concession holders in utilizing the ressources in an alternative way were not even thought of.
At the same time “rapid assessment surveys” were carried out by Conservation International, later also by The Nature Conservancy, in the Raja Ampat Archipelago and elswhere in Papua (partly with technical support by the the notorious Freeport mining company!), with no outcome other than scientific discoveries and sweeping proposals without any conservation effects on the ground neither against logging nor against the continuing bombing of the reefs – with are said to possess the world’s highest marine biodiversity.
I published several articles against these developments. Among others: “Only the Papuans can save their reefs and rainforest” in the Canadian magazine Biodiversity. And: “Sorong (Papua): A Haven for Illegal Logging – with Full Government Support”. This latter text I published under the pseudonym The Forest Peoples Alliance, out of security reasons. It was widely quoted all over the globe and even presented in full on the official OPM website. The latest or perhaps last of these articles is the one presented in blue printing further up on this summary.
Over these years from 1995 until 2003 I filmed for the first time ever the gorgeous Wilson’s Bird of Paradise on Batanta, I promoted the coastal reefs and mangrove forest of Salawati and Batanta and went deep into the unexplored jungle of Waigeo Island in search for the Lost Tribe. For the French/German TV Channel ARTE I produced a one hour feature about the sorcerers of Waigeo and the negotiations with their support and the Raja for protecting the vast forest territory of that Lost Tribe, the Orang Gi, regardless if it exists still or not. Another (British/German) TV production was about the search for the longest lizard in the word on Warir (see above) and on Batanta, with much emphasis on habitat preservation.
In the Arfak Mountains behind Manokwari town I followed tracks of the early exploreres Odoardo Beccari and Luigi D’Albertis in search of the most amazing bird on Earth, the Gardener Bowerbird Amblyornis inornatus – indeed a “superbird”. It talks in its own language and creates the most elaborate and beautifully decorated love hut: I am recording the individual life history of one particular individual over 10 years already. Together with the people of the Hattam tribe we erected guesthouses for bird watchers in traditional style. The area and its wildlife were protected by the landowners and by the entire community. No officials wardens, no other than the self-imposed rules were necessary for an effective protection. But now the political situation in Papua does not allow any tourism in these mountains.
The GEO rainforest foundation contributed 9.000 US Dollars for the Hattam people to set up their own sustainable village development, but all ended again as a failure in this respect because the local NGO Ecopapua was the chosen partner of GEO and not the Hattam community directly. I have just received an Email from these people asking for further support…
Active beyond “retirement”:
In advanced age my dreams and thougths return to the years of childhood, to the now imaginary Bavarian farm of Weisleithen: the deeply satisfying consciousness of cultivating the land, of watching crops to grow and to mature, of harvest and the cycle of seasons. The good feeling of working the own land…
My keen interest in old breeds of farm animals led to actions also in this regard. The first film about the suvival of rare domestic animals for German TV ZDF in 1981was a great success. Subsequently I founded the “Society for the Preservation of Rare and Endanged Breeds of Domestic Animals”. The farm park of St. Wolfgang in Lower Bavaria was progressing well … until I moved to London, because the German authorities did not provide the essential support.
Ten years later, in 1991 I moved on, with all my belongings, to the Island of Thassos in the Northern Aegean Sea. I returned to the rural realm, to my deeply imprinted motivations. Here on Thassos with her ancient history, in the 3.000 years old village of Kazaviti I can realize now those childhood dreams, can do what I always wanted all my life through: to practize myself in person as a traditional farmer the old rules of cultivating the soil, providing natural habitat for all the rich diversity of wildlife as well. I preserve old local crops, fruit trees and varieties of grapes. In short: I respect, I give sense and values again to the entity of what still remains of the “old” traditions, and I bridge these assets and the rural knowledge and history to future generations.
Because in the village, on a traditional farm only the sucession of generations really counts. The own contributions bear significance only if linked up on a personal level with the continuing developments in place-adapted conservation .
I am writing this book in full view of this ongoing evolution.
Suggestions for the layout of the book:
The text will be a mixture of colourful, quite entertaining, but also revealing anecdotes and programmatic conclusions. I suggest to add an appendix of unpublished shorter papers, critical comments and original proposals, for reference.
A rich variety of personal, field and wildlife photographs is availabe.
Maps should be included as well.
I have large archives of documents and correspondence. These will be integrated fully, so that the events will be presented in a fully authentic way. With many original quotes or references to the appendixes, respectively.
Only a selection of major themes are included in the outline above. There is more to be considered. For instance my responses to book publications and shorter papers on conservation issues.
I have avoided a chronological order of the contents. Instead I have tried to arrange the material according to main subjects. So later chapters do not necessarily deal with late events in my life history in a biographical order… how this is going to work out in practical terms I shall only find out when having proceeded in writing the text. I think it will work! It’s a huge task, though, covering decades of quite dramatic events and experiences.
Kazaviti on Thassos Island, Greece
09 July, 2005
Dr. Thomas Schultze-Westrum
GR 640 10 Prinos Thasou
Book proposal: In the Name of Conservation - Evolutionary perspectives and personal experiences
Buchvorhaben: Entwicklungen im Naturschutz - Eine kritische Analyse aus persönlicher Sicht
Entwurf einer Inhaltsgliederung:
Erfahrungen in Weisleithen (die prägenden Jahre auf dem niederbayerischen Einödhof).
Erste Kontakte (Bund Naturschutz in Bayern; Dr. Philip Lehrs und Eugen Schuhmacher).
Ettaler Schuljahre (Benediktinerkloster Ettal bei Oberammergau).
Reise in die Urwelt (nach Zentralsardinien 1955).
Münchner Studienzeit (vergebliche Proteste gegen Stadtverwaltung und Flurbereinigung)
Mein eigenständiges Naturschutzverständnis (Austritt aus dem Bund Naturschutz).
Ein Leben für den Naturschutz:
Expedition auf die Nördlichen Sporaden in der Ägäis 1957.
Die Freundschaft mit den Fischern Jannis und Mizo Florous.
Entdeckung der Insel Piperi und der Mönchsrobben.
Eine Eismaschine für die Genossenschaft und die Vertreibung der gri-gri-Boote:
die Fischer von Alonnisos werden zu aktiven Robbenschützern.
Vorschläge für einen Meeresnationalpark und anschließende Lobbyarbeit („Odyssee für eine Robbe“).
Eleonorenfalken und Korallenmöwen.
Dramatische Entwicklungen bis heute (die Invasion der Robben-“schützer“ – der Kampf um die Insel Kyra Panagia: Schachzüge gegen Athosmönche und die Spekulationen der Großreeder – das nutzlose Umweltministerium - Geldsegen aus Brüssel, aber bis heute noch keine effektive Parkverwaltung).
Durchquerung der Schlucht von Samaria in Westkreta 1961.
Freundschaft mit der Familie Viglis im Dorf Samaria im Zentrum der Schlucht.
Vorschläge für einen Nationalpark in den Weißen Bergen mit Einschluss der Kulturmonumente. Die Regierung erklärt den Park, lässt aber das archaische Dorf Samaria verfallen - im „National“park.
Wildziegenstudien mit Schutzvorschlägen (in den Weißen Bergen Kretas, auf der Vulkaninsel Erimomilos und der Sporadeninsel Giuora).
Eine Taxifahrt zum Urwald der Rhodopen im militärischen Sperrgebiet an der Grenze zu Bulgarien, mit meinen Kindern Matthias und Stephanie, 1979. Die Abholzung mit finanzieller Unterstützung der Weltbank hatte gerade begonnen. Schnelle Rückkehr nach Athen und Stop der weiteren Zerstörung durch Vermittlung von Madam Niki Goulandris und Staatssekretär Paleokrassas.
Im Jahr darauf neuer Einschlag in diesem – wie heute allgemein anerkannt - wertvollsten Urwald der Balkanhalbinsel, doch dann endgültiger Stop durch Vermittlung von Niki Goulandris, über das Küchentelefon der Britischen Botschaft in Athen.
Jobsuche für die durch unseren „Erfolg“ arbeitslos gewordenen Holzfäller: ein weiteres Beispiel aus der Praxis meiner alternativen Naturschutzbemühungen.
Erste Reise zum südlichsten Punkt Europas 1981: zur Insel Gavdos in der Lybischen See, 1981: Programm zur ökotouristischen Nutung und Erhaltung der Natur- und Kulturwerte der „Insel der Kalypso“ für den Umweltminister Antonis Tritsis.
Beratungen im Ministerium und Missionen für die OECD in Griechenland und Jugoslawien.
Erlebnisse in Wüste und Regenwald
Filmaufnahmen und Naturschutzarbeit für den Sultan von Oman 1983 - 1987.
Begegnungen mit Ralph Daly. Dessen erfolgreiche Wiedereinbürgerung der Weißen Oryxantilope im Stammesgebiet der Harasis.
Entdeckungsfahrten im damals noch sehr verschlossenen Sultanat: Wahiba, Jebel Samhan, Kuria Muriainseln, das Naturwunder des NW-Monsuns an der Küste von Dhofar, Entdeckung der Naturoase Ain Tembrok.
Mission für den Television Trust for the Environment nach Thailand: Dreharbeiten und Lobbyarbeit zur (erfolgreichen) Verhinderung des Nam Choan Staudammes im Regenwaldgebiet nahe der historischen Brücke über den Fluss Kwai.
Zurück nach Oman: Filmprojekt „Green Desert“, über das antike Bewässerungssystem der unterirdischen aflaj-Schächte und den natürlichen Wasserzyklus.
Vergleiche zwischen den Anpassungen der Omanis an eine bestehende Wüste einerseits und dem Verhalten der Griechen seit der Antike andrerseits. Die progressive Wüstenbildung im mediterranen Gebiet als Folge der Waldvernichtung: „Die Axt, die Ziege, das Feuer“.
Meine Fehde mit den Ziegenhirten: Schrotschüsse auf mein Haus auf Thassos.
Exkurs in die Frühgeschichte des Naturschutzes
Hier entspricht die Gliederung den Abschnitten im Expose. Mit Beispielen, die ich während meiner Reisen gefunden habe.
Meine persönliche Einstellung zum Naturschutz seit „Yellowstone“ (1872)
Aufteilung der Erde in „geschützte“ und ungeschützte Gebiete,
die Konsequenzen für die Erdoberfläche.
Die Begründer des modernen Naturschutzes (IUCN und WWF).
Naturlandschaft als Spielfeld für Außenseiter.
Verzögerungen der Evolution angepassten Umweltverhaltens als Folge der falschen Ausrichtung der Naturschutzbewegung.
Meine eigene Anteilnahme am „klassischen“ Naturschutz der IUCN.
Die Gründung von ECOCULTURE. Meine Versuche, diese Bewegung auf Einheimische, vor allem Dorfgemeinschaften, als neue Partner auszuweiten.
Propheten des Club of Rome und warum deren Prognosen nicht zutreffen konnten.
Kritische Stimmen aus den Entwicklungsländern.
Das neuartige Konzept Umweltschutz als Ergebnis gesellschaftlicher Evolution.
Die USA als „Alien Power“ - weit entfernt von der irdischen Realität. Eine kritische Analyse.
Albanien im Vergleich: Der Begriff Müll - die Evolution kann nicht Schritt halten.
Das NGO Szenario: Symptom für ein gesellschaftliches Vakuum.
Massive Kritik am Wirken der Naturschutz-NGOs, mit drastischen Beispielen -
NGOs: deren Täuschung der Weltöffentlichkeit und Hilfestellung für die weitere Zerstörung der Naturlandschaften und Artenvielfalt.
Irrwege zur Gewalt: Ökoterroristen und Ökoimperialisten
Beispiel WWF als keineswegs alternatives, globales Wirtschaftsunternehmen.
Weitere Beispiele für falsche Strategien im Naturschutz; was ist Wildnis wirklich wert?
Der fortgesetzte Ausschluss dörflicher Gemeinschaften vom Naturschutz,
Gründe und Fakten zur Vernachlässigung dieses gewaltigen Potentials.
Mein Abenteuer Naturschutz: Neuguinea
Erste achtmonatige Expedition nach Neuguinea 1959.
Erfahrungen in der Tropenwildnis: sogenannte Primitive als beste Naturschützer.
Weitere Reisen, erster umfassender Naturschutzbericht für Papua Neuguinea 1970.
Entwicklung des „Wildlife Management Konzepts“ zusammen mit Max Downes in Papua Neuguinea.
Dörfliche Wildlife Management Areas als echte Alternativen zu Nationalparks.
WWF/FAO Mission nach Irian Jaya (dem heutigen West Papua) zur Auswahl von Schutzgebieten 1978.
Vorschlag für einen marinen Nationalpark Teluk Cenderawasih. Die der Gründung folgende Zerstörung der Riffe in diesem „Schutzgebiet“.
Der Raja Ampat Archipel als wichtigstes Arbeitsgebiet seit 1995:
Gründung von Dorfstiftungen.
Pionierprojekte für Ökotourismus mit Hilfe der deutschen Waschbärstiftung und der deutschen Botschaft in Jakarta.
Die fatale Rolle der deutschen Regenwaldstiftung Oro Verde.
Neue Ansätze mit „GEO schützt den Regenwald“; doch Versagen wegen zu geringem Verständnis des dörflichen Potentials im Regenwaldschutz.
Die krasse Wirklichkeit, WWF, Conservation International und The Nature Conservancy als die weltweit größten Naturschutz-NGOs haben nichts zu verbessertem Schutz beigetragen.
Dynamit im Riff: die grauenhafte, sinnlose Zerstörung der artenreichsten Riffe der Erde. Und wie sie gestoppt werden könnte. Doch es geschieht nichts.
Invasion der chinesisch-malaysischem Holzmafia. David gegen Goliath.
Erfolge, aber unkalkulierbar hohes persönliches Risiko. Trotzdem: die Erfolge sind beachtlich. Beispiele: Riesenwaran und Papua-Weichschildkröte, Wilson’s Paradiesvogel und Arfak-Hüttengärtner, der erstaunlichste aller Vögel (mein „superbird“).
Exkurs in das unverstandene Dilemma: Nationalparks in Indonesien. Warum viele ungeschützte Waldgebiete weniger bedroht sind als Nationalparks.
Grundsätzliche Fehler im Vorgehen des internationalen Naturschutzes und das Versagen der nationalen Behörden.
Koloniale Relikte und wie früher Naturschutz in Indonesien gehandhabt wurde: die Glanzzeiten des IUCN/WWF Beauftragten John MacKinnon in den 1980er Jahren.
Die gänzlich missachtete Rolle der Papuas als den traditionellen Landeignern in der Erhaltung und nachhaltigen Nutzung von Regenwald. „Community empowerment“ und ähliche Worthülsen anstatt wirklicher Beteiligung der Einheimischen.
Der Kleinkrieg der NGOs führt nur zum weiteren Schwinden des Waldes. Vorgetäuschte Erfolge verhindern große Lösungen. Nur in Zusammenarbeit mit Holzkonzessionen können wirklich große Waldflächen erhalten werden. Allerdings muss die Weltgemeinschaft Kompensationen für diese Dienste zahlen. Bedingt optimistische Ausblicke für bereits eingeleitete Vorhaben. Die Einschaltung der UNESCO: Hilfestellung durch den Gründungsdirektors des UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Bernd von Droste zu Hülshoff. Noch unentschieden: Antrag an die United Nations Foundation...
Wirken bis in den „Ruhestand“:
Kindheitsträume aus der bäuerlichen Welt des niederbayerischen Rottals: Land zu bestellen, Feldfrüchte wachsen, reifen zu sehen und ernten zu können. Das Gefühl zu haben, eigenes Land zu bestellen.
Mein „Hobby“: das Bewahren alter Sorten und Rassen. Mein Film für das ZDF: Haustiere vom Aussterben bedroht.
Gründung der „Gesellschaft zur Erhaltung alter und gefährdeter Haustierrassen“, 1981.
Projekt St. Wolfgang: Haustierpark und Denkmaldorf. Scheitern am Unverständnis der Behörden. Auswanderung nach London.
10 Jahre darauf direkter Umzug auf die Insel Thassos in der nördlichen Ägäis. Wiederaufnahme der alten Erfahrungen aus Niederbayern.
Der Kreis schließt sich erst hier: im 3.000-jährigen Dorf Kazaviti kann ich verwirklichen, was ich während des ganzen Lebens vorhatte: selbst „als Bauer“ Land nach alten Methoden zu bewirtschaften, altartige Haustiere zu pflegen, alte Obstsorten zu ziehen, alte Weinsorten zu kultivieren: kurz gesagt: all dem guten Alten wieder Sinn zu vermitteln, unbeachtete Werte weiterzugeben an künftige Generationen. Denn im bäuerlichen Leben zählen nicht die eigenen Lebensjahre allein, sondern es besteht eine Generationsfolge, in die das eigene Wirken sinnvoll eingegliedert ist.