8th World Wilderness Congress announces details of forthcoming news events

07/05/05

July 5, 2005 (Washington, DC) – The 8th World Wilderness Congress (WWC), convening from September 30 – October 6, 2005 at the Egan Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska, is a public forum expected to attract more than 1,000 conservationists and experts from 40 countries. Reporters are welcome to attend.

Highlights Include:

NEW WILDERNESS AREAS

At least two significant announcements are expected to be made at the Congress regarding the creation of new wilderness areas. Although more than 100,000 protected areas and/or wilderness areas already exist globally, this unprecedented announcement may spark an entirely new way of protecting land in the Americas.

The announcements, which have a strong Texas and Latin American angle, will be made on Saturday, October 1.

INDIGENOUS GROUPS

Over the past few months, numerous high-profile news organizations have featured stories about the removal of indigenous groups from their traditional lands and the destruction of the natural resources they depend upon for their livelihoods and cultural survival.

But some indigenous groups have been able to resist threats to their heritage from oil and gas development, mining, uncontrolled logging and settlers.

The 8th WWC will, for the first time ever, bring together as many as 30 indigenous groups – from the United States, Canada, Central and South America, Asia and Africa. These groups will share their experiences protecting their lands and traditional livelihoods, and will form a Native Lands and Wilderness Council, the first of its kind.

TRANSBOUNDARY PROTECTED AREAS (PEACE PARKS)

Nature doesn't recognize international borders – many forests, savannahs and major river systems span several countries, as do many wildlife migration routes. Transboundary protected areas, sometimes referred to as peace parks, are designed to take that reality into account by seeking the cooperation of bordering nations – sometimes even neighboring rivals – to protect vital habitats.

The Congress will mark the release of a beautifully illustrated new book, called Transboundary Conservation: A New Vision for Protected Areas (November, 2005). It represents the efforts of more than 50 scientists, conservationists and professional photographers, and includes the latest information on transboundary conservation.

The book explores the history and growing popularity of protecting territory that stretches across national boundaries, as well as the potential impact on human populations. It also highlights 29 transboundary parks around the world, ranging from the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park in North America to the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park in southern Africa.

GUEST SPEAKERS

More than 50 high-profile and senior-level political and corporate speakers are expected to attend the Congress, half of whom are from developing nations. Speakers include:

  • Leaders and representatives of indigenous and tribal communities from close to 30 nations on six continents
  • David Rockefeller Jr.
  • Governor Walter Hickel
  • Len Good, CEO, The Global Environmental Facility
  • David Quammen, author
  • Grand Chief Herb Norwegian, Deh Cho Nation, Canada
  • Dr. Bob Costanza, Director, Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, Univ. of Vermont
  • Dr. Mike Fay, Wildlife Conservation Society
  • Dale Bosworth, Chief, USDA Forest Service
  • Dr. Willem van Reit, President, Peace Parks Foundation, South Africa
  • Bittu Sahgal, President, Sanctuary Asia
  • Dr. Sylvia Earle, Executive Director, Marine Conservation, Conservation International

    SOCIETY OF ENVIRONMENTAL JOURNALISTS

    If you plan to be in Austin, Texas in late September and early October for the SEJ conference, we'll come to you. On Saturday, October 1 from 9:45 – 11:00 A.M., we'll host a live, interactive video press conference live from Anchorage.

    Our plenary session will have two parts. During the first half, you can interact directly with indigenous leaders from around the world who have successfully resisted threats such as oil and gas development, mining, uncontrolled logging, and settlers. They'll tell you what's working – and what's not.

    During the second half, we will break the news about an unprecedented new wilderness area, courtesy of a most unusual source. We are making this announcement during the SEJ conference due to its strong Texas link. Reporters covering Latin America will also be interested in this news.

    Source: Eurekalert & others

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