“It’s them who know better how to take care of the forest, those who live there. We put the man (sic) at the center of production…Now when they walk in the forest, they see barriers.”
Coralie Nicopas, a representative of French Guiana’s Parc Naturel Régional about an alternative set of parks set aside by and for the indigenous people of French Guiana as an alternative to the national park model imposed by France that has had various adverse effects on the people living in the forests. He told me about how the French model causes indigenous people to lose their land, seek alternative work in the cities, lose their indigenous skills and has led to problems with alcoholism and youth suicidality.
He is at work developing a network of natural regional parks that are owned and run by the indigenous people who inhabit them, who collectively make decisions about where, when and how to farm, fish and collect.