Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Eco-Colonialism: A Fine Line

Conservation and environmentalism are often at odds with the economic and cultural needs of urban factory and refinery workers, farmers, loggers and indigenous people across the diaspora. Should one be more concerned about feeding their family today or the ability to feed their family 50 years from now? This is a very real issue. This conflict is in part responsible for the distrust and apprehension among these individuals about the "green" movement. While the goals of conservationists are well meaning and necessary, often efforts to reduce man's impact on the earth are done without sensitivity to the immediate needs of the local community. Often, entire communities are displaced and left without a means of survival, as highlighted in this article by John Vidal of the Guardian. I have read many other examples of this occuring in Africa, the U.S, Asia and South America. There are success stories of conservationists working with the local community to develop solutions that were mutually beneficial. More conservationists should follow this model. If done properly and with sensitivity, more citizens would be brought in to the fold of being environmentally responsible.The article also highlights the trend of wealthy individuals, private hedge funds, governments and a wealth of other entities purchasing vast areas of acreage in other countries. In many cases profit through the trading of carbon offsets is the primary motive for these purchases. It appears that carbon control is potentially the "new diamond" and the opportunity for eco-exploitation is wide open. We must keep our eyes open and be vigilant in ensuring that this form of colonialism never happens again.

1 comment:

Lee Mcloughlin said...

Agreed,
The key point here is ensuring that community consultation occurs, where it is absent only conflict will result. The management plan for purchased lands must be transparent for potential donors to charities on the respective websites. This plan should include extensive community consultation as is compulsory for government protected areas in western societies. The exclusionist attitude of deep ecologists is a worn out and patently unsustainable view