5-8 July 2009 (Vienna, Austria): What are cultural keystone species? Does more participation in project design and development decision making necessarily lead to more grassroots democracy? What is government to government planning? I will answer 2 of the 3 questions at the end of this short note.
These are some of the more intriguing questions that were asked at the 15th International Symposium on Society and Resource management held at the Austria Centre in Vienna hosted by the University of Natural Resources and Applied Sciences (BOKU) Vienna, from 5 to 8 July. Attracting approximately 500 scholars from over 30 countries of Africa, Asia, North and South America, Europe, Australia & New Zealand it was a truly invigorating site for cross cultural and cross disciplinary exchange. BOKU itself was founded in 1872, and the conference reception given by the Mayor and Governor of Vienna at the Vienna City Hall which had chandeliers over 150 years old and where the grass courtyards are meant for use by the public. The evening the reception was held, citizens of Vienna was enjoying a free opera on a clear summer evening in the gardens of the City Hall. Quite a life.
UMS was represented by Gaim and Fadzilah. Gaim’s paper was entitled: Indigenous people and state land use agenda. Fadzilah’s was: Migration, and moral panic: A case study of oil palm in Sabah. Gaim in fact, had organized a panel which was well attended and attracted so many questions that it ran over time, and the chair had to curb some questions (see photo). Fadzilah was chair, but was part of another panel earlier, which was good because it meant that the audience heard about UMS in two separate sessions.
In case you are curious, cultural keystone species is a term adapted from biological science (keystone species) but, in anthropology, it refers to the species of flora and fauna that are important for the maintenance of a culture. It is an idea that has fount to be important in the paradigm shift in national park management from one in which protection is against the people to one where protection is for them.
Government to government planning is a terminology used in public policy that refers to the process of recognizing first nation (indigenous community) involvement in the management of natural resources as the involvement of governments not as mere stakeholders. This approach is currently being practiced in some parts of the world especially Canada.