As if to emphasize the importance of discussing the future of sustainable use of wild living resources, the WCC organizing committee allocated us the vast Tamna Hall for this first major SULi workshop. Although we did not quite need the 4,300 person capacity, the workshop attracted a good crowd. Unfortunately one of the speakers did not make it to the Congress and another fell ill on the morning of the workshop, but the six remaining speakers covered a wide range of topics, highlighting emerging issues and future directions in sustainable use and acting as a catalyst for discussion with the audience.
SULi Chair Rosie Cooney briefly introduced SULi, the speakers and the aim of the workshop. Iain Davidson-Hunt (University of Manitoba/CEESP) and Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) then kicked off the presentation series with a joint talk on food security, food sovereignty and use of wild resources. After highlighting the importance of wild resources for the livelihoods of local and indigenous peoples, the presentation illustrated the disconnect between a legal system based on the structural legacy of colonialism compared to a traditional system based on customary law and territorial rights. This discord has significantly altered the way indigenous peoples and local communities can interact with territories and resources, and where this occurs there is a need to re-interpret existing legal systems.
Legal frameworks for customary sustainable use by Holly Shrumm, Natural Justice: Lawyers for Communities and the Environment.
Where people live in close contact with wildlife, human-wildlife conflict can occur, particularly in situations where certain wildlife species have become prolific close to human settlements or activities. Increasingly there is a trend away from allowing regulated management (trapping or hunting) by communities or individuals for the market, towards banning such use. In a range of cases, however, such restrictions on use have exacerbated human-wildlife conflict and, indeed, led to the necessity for public management (i.e. government agencies paying for population reduction to be undertaken). Rob Cahill (Fur Institute Canada) discussed several human-wildlife conflict case studies and the potential social, ecological and economic implications of current wildlife management policy.
Human/Wildlife Conflict: A growing global trend that is devaluing wildlife by Rob Cahill, Executive Director, Fur Institute of Canada.
Some of the fundamental scientific discourses influencing small-scale fisheries management and food security were critically examined in a presentation by Jeppe Kolding (University of Bergen). Showing examples from several field study sites Africa, Jeppe demonstrated that in a small-scale artisanal fisheries context, the underlying assumptions informing typical scientific management strategies often do not apply. Inappropriate management strategies do not only have negative biological effects, but also have serious social implications as millions of people directly depend on small scale fisheries for food and livelihoods.
Livelihoods, poverty alleviation and sustainability in small scale fisheries: What are we doing wrong? by Jeppe Kolding University of Bergen, Norway
The need to ensure that appropriate information is used and information is used appropriately was further emphasised by Robert Kenward (Anatrack), focusing on the European context. Although there is generally no lack of knowledge in natural resource management and policy decisions, science-based information is often not locally relevant or usable by non-experts. To bridge this gap there is an urgent need to tap into existing local knowledge and encourage local community participation in data collection, monitoring and decision making with regards to natural resource management.
Decision support for conservation through use: letting everyone contribute! by Prof. Robert Kenward, Anatrack / www.naturalliance.eu
In the final presentation, Steve Broad (TRAFFIC) discussed a market based approach to conservation, examining certification as a mechanism to bridge the gaps between the work of development and conservation organizations and markets for sustainably produced ingredients. Standards such as the FairWild Standard for wild flora provide a set of best practice guidelines for the sustainable harvest and trade of resources and can be used by industry, governments and communities. Although certification of wild harvested resources is limited to date, given the right circumstances, there is great potential for certification to provide both conservation as well as community benefits.
Standards and Certification for Wild-harvested Products: Promise and Pitfalls for Conservation and Livelihoods by Steve Broad, TRAFFIC.
The presentations provided much food for thought and the audience was invited to share their views, engage in discussion with the panel and SULi Chair and provide suggestions for the role of SULi in the debate and future directions of work. This Q&A session was facilitated by Simon Stuart, Chair of the Species Survival Committee. A convening function to connect expertise within and outside IUCN was identified as a key role for the SULi specialist group. It was further stressed that SULi should serve as a knowledge platform, incorporating existing data from developing countries. But most questions and suggestions were centered around the roles and rights of local communities with regards to sustainable use: How to ensure benefits of wild resource use flow to communities, particularly in situations with questionable tenure and vested interest from local or global commercial actors and markets? How to ensure communities acquire and retain control over harvest and trade of wild resources? How to stimulate Private Public Community Partnerships and engage business in these initiatives? The discussion provided much to ponder and clearly reaffirmed the need for a specialist group that cuts across different Commissions to bridge the social-environmental divide.
Sarah Doornbos is SULi's Programme Officer, Rosie Cooney is SULi Chair.