World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy: the world's big three nonprofit conservation groups. World Watch Magazine's November/December 2004 issue features a detailed analysis of whether these groups, in their quests to preserve biodiversity, are shutting out the indigenous peoples who live in the territories they are trying to protect, or even abusing their rights. The editors state that even though "the fresh air may at times be chilly," they want to "launch an open and public discussion about a complex and contentious issue" -- a discussion that will ultimately benefit both human and biological diversity.
Anyone interested in these types of issues may want to read 'Ethnographies of Conservation' edited by David G. Anderson and Eeva Berglund. It holds many concrete examples of disempowerment of the underpriviliged in the name of environmentalism. I'm studying Anthropology at university and it is VERY important that the environmental movement (of which I consider myself a member) begins to understand the ideas that underpin it (representations of a nature, for example). There is tremendous harm being done in the name of that which should be purely and uniquely positive. William McDonough's work is some of the very few that seek to understand the importance of PEOPLE in the environment. That is why so many Americans (as well as other native peoples) are distrustful of environmentalism - not because they do not see its point but because they do not feel they have a primary place in its worldview - they do not think that, as well as making the environment better, it can make THEIR lives better. THIS HAS TO CHANGE - AND SOON. Before all the arguments get washed away by our indecision. We have to trust the people to save the people!