Hunting for Sustainability in Tropical Forests

Hunting for Sustainability in Tropical Forests

Hunting for Sustainability in Tropical Forests

Hunting for Sustainability in Tropical Forests

Synopsis

Throughout the world people are concerned about the demise of tropical forests and their wildlife. Hunting by forest-dwelling people has a dramatic effect on wildlife in many tropical forests, frequently driving species to local extinction, with devastating implications for other species and the health of the forests themselves. But wildlife is an important source of protein and cash for rural peoples. Can hunting be managed to conserve biological communities while meeting human needs? Are hunting rates as practiced by tropical forest peoples sustainable? If not, what are the biological, social, and cultural implications of this failure? Answering these questions is ever more important as national and international agencies seek to integrate the development of local peoples with the conservation of tropical forest systems and species. This book presents a wide array of studies that examine the sustainability of hunting as practiced by rural peoples. Comprising work by both biological and social scientists, Hunting for Sustainability in Tropical Forests provides a balanced viewpoint on the ecological and human aspects of this hunting. The first section examines the effects of hunting on wildlife in tropical forests throughout the world. The next section looks at the importance of hunting to local communities. The third section looks at institutional challenges of resource management, while the fourth draws on economic perspectives to understand both hunting and sustainability. A final section provides synthesis and summary of the factors that influence sustainability and the implications for management. Drawing on examples from Ecuador to Congo-Zaire to Sulawesi, Hunting for Sustainability in Tropical Forests will be a valuable resource to policymakers, conservation organizations, and students and scholars of biology, ecology, and anthropology.

Excerpt

Societies thrive on myths, of ancient heroes and divine origins, that unite and give identity. However, in an age when population growth, climate change, pollution, habitat destruction, and extinction of species endanger the future of many organisms, including ourselves, new myths have appeared that threaten all societies by hampering worldwide conservation efforts. As promulgated by developed nations, the new myths include the idea that natural resources are infinite, that technological fixes will solve all problems, that poverty can be eliminated by producing and consuming more, and that sustainability in use of resources can be achieved without a radical transformation of economics, culture, society, and politics. Conservation is in crisis. Conventional approaches have not worked. Development and conservation are on an accelerating collision course, and proposed solutions are no more than hopeful improvisations. Myths, even surreal ones, provide comfort and validate the denial of problems. Psychological agility, sentimental optimism, and a tendency to favor clichés undiluted by insight enable people to ignore fact or fiction. Instead of confronting uncertainty honestly, all too much of the conservation agenda consists of hollow and confused verbiage that promotes dogma rather than dialogue. Blindness to reality is dangerous.

These and other thoughts come to mind as I perused this volume on the impact of hunting wildlife by local peoples in tropical forests. the chapters are resonant with authority and illuminating in perceptions on an important subject that has until now been almost devoid of meticulous and intellectually rigorous data. It is noteworthy that the information is based on prolonged, strenuous field work by a core of dedicated biologists and anthropologists, not on opinions or on calculations derived from remote sensing, computer modeling, and other technological tools. Although considered archaic by some, natural history remains the cornerstone of knowledge about species (including the human species) and their role in ecosystems, and it provides the basis for elucidating the biological patterns and principles upon which conservation must depend. By studying the demographics of duikers and measuring the grams of meat eaten per day by a Wana villager, the way we think about and treat the world is affected. This volume focuses on a specific problem, but at the same time it addresses two basic global issues, both of which are in need of hard-eyed scrutiny: the sustainable use of resources and the attitudes toward nature by local people.

Sustainability is the most commonly invoked concept in the arsenal of solutions to a resource problem. But it is a vague and slippery concept that has . . .

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