Achieving environmental conservation and socioeconomic development at the same time has proven to be a difficult challenge. The need to balance different sets of priorities, without adequate tools to understand what makes indigenous peoples conserve or degrade biodiversity, oftentimes leads to frustration and the sense of a significant gap in applied knowledge. Many theories and models oftentimes fail to provide the necessary elements to understand the specific circumstances of indigenous groups, that is, the application of theories in practice, so people working in environmental programs end up missing key processes not portrayed in these models. As a result, many conservation programs end up achieving only temporary results, while their funding lasts, but without real prospects for the long-term sustainability of such initiatives. How can we actually deliver socially and environmentally sustainable results, beyond rhetorical arguments and analytically week depictions? The experience of the Wachiperi provides key insights in this process. Of course, we could continue relying on oversimplistic models and formulas to understand the interaction between social, environmental and economic factors, since it is easier to go with the trend. The alternative is to make a conscious choice to seek a more comprehensive understanding of the living conditions of indigenous peoples, using an analytical framework that allows the combination of general trends happening in different places with the specific circumstances of an indigenous group in a given setting, and recognizing that not all factors are equally influential across places and cultures. This is what this book is all about, illustrating these points in a study about the hunting behavior of the Wachiperi of the Peruvian rainforest. The reasons why indigenous communities end up degrading or conserving natural resources are addressed in a comprehensive yet accessible manner, filling a critical gap in current knowledge about the socioeconomic drivers of biodiversity loss and the rise of community-based conservation in tropical forests. This revealing study will change the way you think about indigenous groups and the relationship between environment and society.
Rodolfo Tello is an anthropologist who has worked extensively in different countries of Latin America on issues such as social development, indigenous peoples and environmental conservation. He conducted research with the Wachiperi, Awajún, Nahua, and Quechua-Lamista of the Peruvian rainforest. He also worked implementing the social safeguard policies of a large multilateral organization in countries such as Bolivia, Paraguay, Colombia, Argentina, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, Ecuador, Bahamas and Suriname. He holds a PhD in anthropology from American University and has a master's degree from the University of Maryland, College Park. He was a Fulbright scholar and currently works as a consultant for an international development organization. He is also a general aviation pilot and occasionally teaches university classes on cultural anthropology.
Additional information about recent and upcoming publications by the author may be found at www.rodolfotello.com Check it out!read more
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