Letter

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Sir: The problems of conservation and eco-tourism (report, 15 September) arise because of Western definitions of conservation which presume the separation of humans from nature.

The image of exotic expanses of African wilderness without human inhabitants is a myth created by Western conservationists. Protected areas in Africa often entail the forceful eviction of the indigenous population without provision for alternative livlihoods. In this context, why shouldn't conservation be redefined as "the sustainable use of natural resources by local communities"?

Your article is right; conservation is a legacy of colonialism. It is easy for us in the West to advocate protected areas, since it is never us who are thrown out of our homes. And it is as tourists that we enjoy the majority of the benefits. No wonder tourist companies put so much money into conservation, very little of which gets to those who have suffered because of it.

MIKE SANSOM

Bristol

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