Extractive Conservation

Peasant Agroecological Systems as New Frontiers of Exploitation?

Anne Cristina de la Vega-Leinert and Peter Clausing

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.

Keywords: agricultural intensification; agroecology; conservation corporate systems; food security; food sovereignty; green economy; neoliberal conservation

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/ares.2016.070104

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