Contested Nature: Promoting International Biodiversity with Social Justice in the Twenty-first Century

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Steven R. Brechin, Crystal L. Fortwangler, Peter R. Wilshusen, Patrick C. West
SUNY Press, Aug 14, 2003 - Law - 338 pages
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Contends that effective biological conservation and social justice must go hand in hand.

How can the international conservation movement protect biological diversity, while at the same time safeguarding the rights and fulfilling the needs of people, particularly the poor? Contested Nature argues that to be successful in the long-term, social justice and biological conservation must go hand in hand. The protection of nature is a complex social enterprise, and much more a process of politics, and of human organization, than ecology. Although this political complexity is recognized by practitioners, it rarely enters into the problem analyses that inform conservation policy. Structured around conceptual chapters and supporting case studies that examine the politics of conservation in specific contexts, the book shows that pursuing social justice enhances biodiversity conservation rather than diminishing it, and that the fate of local peoples and that of conservation are completely intertwined.

“Written in an accessible and engaging style [it is] full of new ideas and accounts of the latest practices and problems that will form a valuable compendium for people wrestling with these problems.” — Journal of Ecological Anthropology

"Using a variety of perspectives, and mixing theory with practical examples, Contested Nature opens new vistas on how social justice can be furthered through the establishment and management of protected areas while still meeting critical nature conservation objectives." — David Harmon, Executive Director of The George Wright Society and author of In Light of Our Differences: How Diversity in Nature and Culture Makes Us Human

"This book is essential reading, not just for scholars and environmental activists, but for all who care about the survival of our planet. It addresses the central question of our era, how to halt increasing environmental decay and social exclusion—processes that create a degraded, diminished, and unjust world. In doing so, it presents the most powerful argument yet published for connecting the protection of biological diversity with social justice." — Jacklyn Cock, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

"This book is the first comprehensive attempt to apply social science concepts and analyses to the urgent, practical mandate of balancing biodiversity conservation with social justice. The analysis draws on a broad range of theoretical approaches to derive useful new thinking that helps to move beyond the growing polarization between conservation and social justice." — Marianne Schmink, Director of the Tropical Conservation and Development Program at the University of Florida

Contributors include Valentin Agbo, Jill Belsky, Charles Benjamin, Steven R. Brechin, Delma Buhat, Patrick Christie, Michael K. Dorsey, Crystal L. Fortwangler, Len R. Garces, Charles Geisler, Lisa L. Gezon, R. Murguia, Michael Simsik, Nestor Sokpon, Patrick C. West, Alan T. White, and Peter R. Wilshusen.

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About the author (2003)

Steven R. Brechin is Professor of Sociology at Syracuse University. He is the coauthor (with Patrick C. West) of Resident Peoples and National Parks: Social Dilemmas and Strategies in International Conservation.Peter R. Wilshusen is Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at Bucknell University. Crystal L. Fortwangler is Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Oberlin College. Patrick C. West is Vice President and Chairman of the Board of Windago Heights and editor of Windago Heights Press.

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