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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 280-293

Death by 1,000 Cuts: Road Politics at Sumatra's Kerinci Seblat National Park

Department of Geography, University of Hawai'i at M?noa, Honolulu, HI, USA

Correspondence Address:
Keith Bettinger
Department of Geography, University of Hawai'i at M?noa, Honolulu, HI
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.145143

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This paper examines how decentralisation reforms have led to an increase in road proposals in the districts around Sumatra's Kerinci Seblat National Park (KSNP). Roads through KSNP, which is still under the authority of the central government, are illegal, but the newly empowered districts argue that KSNP's existence is an unfair obstacle to regional economic development, and that the roads would aid in improving the local economies. The article examines Sumatra's extractive economy in a historical context, arguing that past economic patterns have helped in shaping the conflicts over access to resources in KSNP. District elites are attempting to maximise their access to, and benefits from, natural resources by using a variety of strategies to push for the construction of roads through KSNP; these strategies include the discursive construction of a new district geographic identity, the use of formal powers to encourage informal and illegal activities, and the formation of ad-hoc coalitions across scales. Using three case studies, I describe how the road proposals illustrate the different manifestations of centre/district struggles to gain control over, and access to, natural resources.

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