Extractive Conservation

Peasant Agroecological Systems as New Frontiers of Exploitation?

Authors: Anne Cristina de la Vega-Leinert and Peter Clausing
Volume 7, Number 1 (2016)

A primary rain forest in Sungai Penuh, Jambi, Indonesia. Current land use trends include the loss of 2.74 million square kilometers of primary forests between 1990 and 2015 and a corresponding expansion of agricultural land by 6.76 million square kilometers between 1990 and 2013 (photograph by Luke Mackin via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Abstract:

In view of the Aichi international policy targets to expand areas under conservation, we analyze to what extent conservation has become an inherent element of extraction. We scrutinize the Land Sparing versus Land Sharing debate by explicitly incorporating environmental justice issues of access to land and natural resources. We contend that dominant conservation regimes, embedded within Land Sparing, legitimize the displacement of local people and their land use to compensate for distant, unsustainable resource use. In contrast, the Land Sharing counternarrative, by promoting spatial integration of conservation in agroecological systems, has the potential to radically challenge extraction. Common ground emerges around the concept of sustainable intensification. We contend that if inserted in green economy’s technocentric and efficiency-oriented framework, sustainable intensification will contribute to undermining diversified peasant agroecological systems by transforming them into simplified, export-orientated ones, thereby stripping peasant communities of the capacity to provide for their own needs.



ANNE CRISTINA DE LA VEGA-LEINERT is a physical geographer by training and completed her PhD in Quaternary sciences at Coventry University. She worked in several projects on modeling of vulnerability and adaptation to climate impacts, ecosystem service provision, and sustainable land use management within European and German research frameworks, at the Flood Hazard Research Centre, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and, since 2008, the Geography and Geology Institute at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University. Her current research focuses on conservation and land use transformations, particularly in Latin American peasant agroecological systems.

PETER CLAUSING received his PhD in agriculture from the University of Leipzig and a postgraduate degree in toxicology from the German Society for Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology. He works in the research group on agriculture of México via Berlin e.V. and is a board member of the Pesticide Action Network, Germany. He has published two books (titles translated from German)—Nature Conservation and Profit (2008) and The Green Matrix: Conservation and World Nutrition at a Crossroads (2013). His writings are archived on www.welt-ernaehrung.de.

Access article on Berghahn Journals