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Indigenous Knowledge and Customary Law in Natural Resource Management: Experiences in Yunnan, China and Haruku, Indonesia

Publisher: AIPP
Number of pages: 68
ISBN number: 978-616-90611-5-1
Publication language: English
Country publication is about: Indonesia, China
Region publication is about: Asia
Release year: 2010

Tags: Land rights, Global governance

This publication is a compilation of two case studies conducted one in Yuhu Village, Yulong county, Yunnan, China and the second in Haruku village, Haruku Island, Indonesia. Both cases highlight the importance of indigenous knowledge and customary law for the success of conservation and sustainable development initiatives as the way forward.

Lands and territories inhabited by most indigenous peoples across the globe are rich in natural resources. Through generations of experimentation and as custodians, the indigenous peoples have developed an expansive body of knowledge for sustainable use and management of these resources. The continuity of this knowledge and sustainable use and management practices of these resources are enforced through rules, beliefs and taboos which form a part of their customary laws.

Indigenous peoples possess systematic knowledge of plants, animals and natural phenomena of the ecosystems and their surroundings. This rich knowledge coupled with their close relationship with their lands has enabled them to live in harmony with nature. However, with the colonization of their lands and territories over the centuries, the process of plundering the resources and dispossessions began. Additionally, statutory laws were imposed on them which marginalized their customary laws that regulate the application of their knowledge on the management of the natural resources within their territories. The situation has continued to aggravate over the last few decades with the coming of the era of economic development, which is aggressively pursued by private companies. In addition, indigenous peoples are being pushed out or evicted from their homelands in the name of conservation of natural resources. Both these trends are occurring with the backing of the state. Nonetheless, indigenous peoples continue to assert and practice their distinctive way of life and worldviews on a narrow margin.

These studies were carried out under the Collaborative Management and Learning Network (CMLN) project of AIPP which is funded by the SwedBio. CMLN encourages dialogues between the communities living in Protected Areas (PAs) and the park authorities to promote co-management and shared governance.

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