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2006| January-March | Volume 4 | Issue 1
June 26, 2009
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The Forest of Symbols Embodied in the Tholung Sacred Landscape of North Sikkim, India
January-March 2006, 4(1):55-83
The paper explores the forest of symbols and the cultural politics embodied in the Tholung sacred landscape of North Sikkim, India. Representations of the Lepchas as the guardians of the sacred grove are gaining ground in the contemporary context of their cultural revival and regional ethnopolitics. To nuance these perspectives, this study furthers the socioecological debate on conservation, socio-religious fencing, and the mediating role of state. Sacred groves and landscapes are often perceived as an example of indigenous forest management practices and the antithesis of the sanctuary rationally managed by the forest department of the government. I emphasise that conservation is a latent consequence while the idea of a sacred site preserves the forest and keeps it inviolate. I argue that Tholung constitutes the nerve centre of Lepcha life, their identity, and embodies the nationalist practices of the former Kingdom of Sikkim. As a sanctified site, Tholung legitimised the authority of the Namgyal dynasty that ruled Sikkim until its incorporation into India in 1975. I explain how rituals performed by the Lepchas regenerate the human body, the land, the ancestral connections of the Lepchas, and their indigenous identity. The community, the forest and the state are conjoined in the locus of the sacred grove as it legitimises the power of the state and sustains the ethnic-nationalism of the Lepchas in the region.
Climate Change and Biodiversity in Europe
January-March 2006, 4(1):84-101
Climate change is already affecting European biodiversity, as demonstrated by changes in species' ranges and ecosystem boundaries, shifts in reproductive cycles and growing seasons, and changes to the complex ways in which species interact (predation, pollination, competition and disease). These effects vary between regions and ecosystems. Strategies adopted to mitigate or adapt to climate change also impact biodiversity. And land use changes with subsequent changes to biodiversity can also alter levels of greenhouse gas emissions thus affecting the global climate. This article describes the many linkages between climate and biodiversity. It stresses the need for more integrated policy responses, at international, regional and national levels. Nationally, activities that meet biodiversity and climate change objectives need promoting and mainstreaming into various sectoral areas of policy making. Reducing energy consumption, increasing energy efficiency and promoting renewable energy technologies are priorities. Activities which meet both climate and biodiversity objectives also need exploring. These include adopting new landscape management approaches, and ensuring that carbon sequestration projects and renewable energy projects incorporate biodiversity considerations.
Common Property Resources in Different Agro-Climatic Landscapes in India
Ajit Menon, G Ananda Vadivelu
January-March 2006, 4(1):132-154
The importance of common property resources (CPRs) to rural communities is no longer in question. An exercise that is, however, necessary is a disaggregated analysis of CPR use across different agro-climatic zones that addresses certain unexplored issues in greater detail: (1) variations in CPR use in diverse agro-climatic zones, (2) differential dependence on CPRs between farmers of different operational size holdings, and (3) legal access to CPRs. Our contention in addressing these concerns is that they are critical to informed policy on the commons that explicitly addresses the potential of CPR-based livelihood strategies and implicitly conservation as well. The paper is largely based on the National Sample Survey 54
Round data on CPRs as it presents interesting insights into the above-mentioned concerns based on a survey of 78,900 households across agro-climatic landscapes of the country.
The Evolution of Environmental Policy and its Impact in the People's Republic of China
January-March 2006, 4(1):36-54
Though environmental problems in China are well known worldwide, particularly critical issues such as the Three Gorges Dam Project, acid rain and dust storms, they are misunderstood by foreign politicians and scholars. This article introduces Chinese environmental policy and its efficiency from a Chinese environmental perspective. I will examine the evolution of Chinese environmental policy and its gains and losses in the context of a transforming Chinese economy, society and politics. The first part of this article describes the formation and development of Chinese environmental policy. The second part analyses the implementation of Chinese environmental policy and its impact. The third looks at the obstacles and questions that stand in the way of development and implementation of environmental regulation and protection in China. My argument is that Chinese environmental policy is impressive and comprehensive, but its implementation is incomplete.
From Forestry to Soil Conservation: British Tree Management in Lesotho's Grassland Ecosystem
Kate B Showers
January-March 2006, 4(1):1-35
Unlike wooded savannas closer to the equator, Lesotho's grassland ecosystem supports few trees. Where topography provides protection from cold winds, or concentrations of ground water mitigate atmospheric drought, hardy species of trees grow. Basotho valued their wooded patches, as well as individual trees, as defenses against cold and for construction. Trees were protected vegetation, managed as common property by the chiefs for the benefit of all. Arriving Europeans did not know about, or understand, this system of protection. Nineteenth century missionaries cut down most of the riparian trees for construction and fuel. The twentieth century British Basutoland government implemented tree planting programmes, despite limited acceptance by the Basotho and high rates of mortality. An explanation for continued tree planting activities in the face of obvious failure can be found in an analysis of the importance of environmental narratives to government officials. A set of beliefs about trees' universal ecological benefits prevented officials from accepting evidence to the contrary.
From Opportunism to Resource Management: Adaptation and the Emergence of Environmental Conservation among Indigenous Swidden Cultivators on Mindoro Island, Philippines
January-March 2006, 4(1):102-131
This article presents the results of a long-term study of adaptive processes among Buhid swidden communities on Mindoro Island in the Philippines. Departing from a discussion of regional variations in adaptive systems, it describes the ongoing technological and institutional transformation of the resource use system in response to increasing scarcity resulting from unsustainable practices under conditions of a virtually open access to resources. Through a process of redefining and specifying resource ownership and use rights, the emerging system has come to rest on a distinction between individually and communally owned resources. The introduction of new cropping systems and the simultaneous individualisation of swidden land ownership led to a more intensive and sustainable land use. While some interior communities have eventually also developed resource management regimes for common property resources, Buhid communities closer to the lowlands are still grappling with the difficulties of establishing and enforcing common property regimes in a context of resource competition with the more powerful migrant settler society. Thus, the article will on the one hand identify conditions for and factors at play in the successful institutional and technological transformation found in some communities, and on the other hand it will point at the underlying causes of the prevailing difficulties to maintain common property management, as they are found in other communities.
Waiting for Wolves in Japan: An Anthropological Study of People-Wildlife Relations
January-March 2006, 4(1):166-169
Land Use, Nature Conservation and the Stability of Rainforest Margins in Southeast Asia
January-March 2006, 4(1):169-172
Reaching Out to the Past
January-March 2006, 4(1):173-175
The Use and Knowledge of Herpetofauna on Little Nicobar Island, India
January-March 2006, 4(1):155-165
The island of Little Nicobar in the southern Nicobars is the least developed of all the inhabited islands in the archipelago. The Nicobarese are one of the few tribal communities who are exempt from the provisions of the Indian Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. Studies on the use of wildlife in the Nicobars are rare in spite of the knowledge and use of species for consumption and sustenance. This article focuses on the ethnobiology of herpetofauna in Little Nicobar and the methods of use. This was part of a larger study on the food production and procurement strategies of the 'Payuh', who are the ethnic group of islanders who identify themselves as such on the island of Little Nicobar and surrounding regions; the term 'Payuh' is in use even in the Nancowry group of islands and on the south western coast of Great Nicobar Island but these populations are culturally distinct in many ways. Though local communities have lived off forests and fauna for many years, and occupied the coast for habitation and conversion into plantations, wild species still persist on the island in less disturbed habitats, unlike other islands in the archipelago. This article details the way these islanders describe the herpetofauna.
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