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Climate Conservation

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This story is part of Fix’s What’s Next Issue, which looks ahead to the ideas and innovations that will shape the climate conversation in 2022, and asks what it means to have hope now. Check out the full issue here.

The nation’s conservation movement often gets traced back to 19th-century naturalists like John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, and Henry David Thoreau — white men who favored protecting nature from human interference. Their work contributed to the creation of the first national parks, the U.S. Forest Service, and many policy legacies that persist today. But their exaltation of “pristine wilderness” is now seen by many as fundamentally racist, because it ignores, and in some cases erases, the fact that the First Peoples of this continent managed ecosystems for thousands of years before white settlers arrived. And, much like development, the conservation that they espoused often led to the seizure of Indigenous lands.

That racist legacy endures and has influenced conservation in other parts of the world. “For so long Indigenous stewardship really wasn’t recognized,” says Beth R... Read more

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