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
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. Improved
technology and affluence in the industrialised world has made
wilderness areas more accessible, so that they are increasingly sought
after by resource developers. This leads to conflicts between
indigenous people, wilderness quality, and the resource developers.
Indigenous peoples’ way of life and control of and access to their
resources and environment has become more pronounced with the
globalisation of the world economy. Indigenous peoples are paying a
high price for tourism. In their drive for profits, transnational
corporations which dominate the international tourist industry have,
with the complicity of governments (particularly those of the Third
World), have devastated the lives and lifestyles of indigenous
peoples. Indigenous peoples have been evicted from their traditional
lands, their control and access to their natural resources
compromised. They have suffered social degradation brought about by
foreign influences and the commercialisation of their culture. Even
the rich biodiversity of their natural resources has suffered from
pollution and environmental damage, unable to support the growing
number of tourist arrivals. For example, in the Cook Islands in the
Pacific, a 204-room hotel was built on land sacred to the local
people. The construction has caused environmental damage amounting to
over $1 million.
In the Russian Federation’s Providenskij and Tchukogskij...