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Examine the ways in which the unique indigenous lifestyles found in wilderness areas are under threat

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Introduction

Examine the ways in which the unique indigenous lifestyles found in wilderness areas are under threat A significant proportion of the world's population - about 300 million people - are described as indigenous, or native, peoples. They belong to a rich and diverse array of cultures spread across the globe. Indigenous peoples are defined as the descendents of those people who inhabited an area before it was colonised by Europeans, or before a modern state was established there. Where groups of indigenous peoples have survived it is often because they live in extreme geographic and climatic conditions - very wet or cold, extremely hot or dry. They are places where colonisers have not wished to settle, and which are so remote and inaccessible that governments simply have no authority. They range in size and location from the Scottish Highlands to Antarctica. Many indigenous lifestyles that inhabit wilderness areas today have existed for thousands of years. For example, the Kuku Yalariji people, one of thousands of Aboriginal Australian tribes in the country, are believed to have occupied Daintree rainforest for more than 9000 years. These are peoples with a keen sense of their identity and their historic links with the land. They see their future as bound up with their environment, and are determined to hold on to their own languages and cultures. But these are not static societies. Indigenous people are constantly having to adapt in order to survive, because their lifestyles are increasingly coming under threat. ...read more.

Middle

Therefore, a very small percentage of the money made from tourism goes back into the community to provide the local residents with primary schools, basic healthcare and employment opportunities in the tourist industry. This is where the 'sustainable' aspect of ecotourism comes into play. These employment opportunities involve dancing or playing traditional music to bands of tourists, as in the case of the tribes that inhabit Kakum National Park. This is terribly degrading. Joan Carling of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance aptly summed up the effects of tourism on the indigenous peoples when she wrote "Tourism has facilitated the further disintegration of the peoples' indigenous way of life. The commercialisation of their culture has led to undignified ways of seeking a livelihood such as allowing themselves to be photographed as souvenirs, or to do their indigenous dance for a fee. This practise was never a part of their culture." Although indigenous people do see some of the benefits of ecotourism, there is rarely an acknowledgement-much less support- of indigenous people's struggle for cultural survival, self-determination, freedom of cultural expression, rights to ancestral lands, and control over land use and resource management. What few benefits indigenous peoples derive from tourism are far outweighed by the damage it has caused them. They have been made to bear the brunt of an industry over which they have neither say nor control. Ecotourism, which has been touted as the fastest growing form of tourism in the Third World, has not proven to be sustainable at all. ...read more.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, indigenous communities all over the world are being taken advantage of by resource developers. Their lands are being exploited. Major development programmes in the 1970s saw distribution of land for rubber production, agriculture, livestock and timber production without any reference to the indigenous groups. Governments are more concerned with money-making than they are with preserving part of their country's cultural history. Legislation put in place in Daintree Rainforest, concerning the Kuku Yalariji, called for their "protection." However, it actually involved European authorities rounding up Aboriginal groups, removing them from their traditional homelands, and placing them in missions. This piece of legislation served only to reduce the human value of the aboriginal people, and did nothing to protect them. Not only are the indigenous communities gradually disappearing, so are the precious wilderness environments that they inhabit. As well as being of important cultural value, these wilderness areas are also of significant ecological value, and must be conserved. We must recognize that biological diversity is by no means evenly distributed over the surface of our planet, and that much of it is concentrated in a relatively few biologically rich regions that are often under severe threat. Clear priorities for conservation action in these regions must therefore be set. To be successful, strong partnerships must be established within the conservation community, the indigenous communities and the private sector. Otherwise, indigenous peoples will continue to be mere cogs in the wheels of these billion-dollar industries. ...read more.

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