GGRC02H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter week 4: Climax Community, Intact Forest Landscape, Gilgit-Baltistan

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5 Jul 2018
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LEACH AND FAIRHEAD: CHALLENGING NEO-MALTHUSIAN DEFORESTATION ANALYSES IN
WEST AFRICA’S DYNAMIC FOREST LANDSCAPES
-Neo-Maalthusian assumptions about population-forest relationships  West Africa has
lost 30m hect, only 13% original forest cover remains
b/c rapid pop. Growth  immigration into forest area
- In pop.-env debates, typically have neo-malthusian vs neo-boserupian alternatives
People tend to incline towards Malthusian interpretations
-Paper argues: deforestation narratives misrepresent the relationships between people
and forests in West Africa
Deforestation analyses in West Africa
- World is saying that deforestation is a big issue in West Africa  paint West Africa at the
extreme negative of a global picture
- Statistics point to West Africa having lost lots of forest  these stats go into formulating
intl agreements and conservation policies
-(stats on countries on pages 4-6)
- major causes of deforestation are believed to be: conversion of land for agriculture and
logging
pop. Growth has prominent place in this, along w/ economic growth, policies,
poverty, job insecurity etc
- major concern in West Africa forest are conversion of dense forest cover into perennial
crops, while selective logging promotes the conversion of forest land to agricultural
- local pop. Growth near forests interacts w/ the pop. Growth of those in urban areas 
urban demand drives this reconstruction
- forests eventually turn into savannahs
- socioeconomic and polical changes over past century are contributing to deforestation
w/ the effects attenuated by pop. Growth
- Arguments about pop. Growth have been linked to immigration into the forest zone
since 1500s  refugees from war-torn areas, env. Refugees etc. move into forest areas,
increase the local pop. And de-stabilize sustainable resource use practices
- Many estimates on forest cover change are based on assumptions about pop. Change
and its effects
1. Estimates “original forest cover”  believes the origin “baseline” was fully forested
with the subsequent loss happening b/c people
othis is frequently linked to the pre-colonial period
oin other cases, the dating of the baseline is vague or pushed back in time
othese maps are expected to be an indicator, not a direct measure of org.
forest cover and it might look diff. if take into account LT climate change
2. Lots of influential analysis have explicitly used pop. Growth data as a proxy for
vegetation change in the absence of other data
oled to neo-malthusian assumptions in the statistical data itself
osome also get stats from national forest surveys (which can be outdated and
politically influenced)
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3. Cross-country stats concerning deforestation have been linked w/ population
variables int eh analysis of causes of forest loss
ocorrelating these country-country deforestation rates w/ other national
variables (eg. poverty, income growth) tries to identify a causal significance
of these
otry to explore the impact of pop. Growth and density on deforestation
4. Assumptions about the causes of deforestation have often been formalized in
models designed to predict future deforestation rates and trends
olook for linkages between deforestation rates and associated carbon
emission
oalso try to look for patterns of land use change, spatial preferences for land
colonization and dispersion
Challenging deforestation analyses
- historical sources that describe vegetation/landscapes provide means to falsify/validate
the image of West Africa (Was) forest zone as an intact, little-disturbed forests
-Examines Ghana
Many authors assumed that entire forest zone was forest (8m hect)  other
estimates however show that “intact” forest in 1922 was in fact 5m hect
Meniaud (1933) suggests that other stats exaggerated how much forest cover is in
Ghana  suggest that the areas of the “closed forest” was only 4.5m hect  criticizes
analysts for failing to distinguish between areas of the forest zone and areas within
it (what the hell does this even mean lmao)
Large areas of the forest zone were certainly not “under forest”
Deforestation began in the 19th century, descp. Of land use contradict the
assumption that the forest zone was a zone of forest (lol what)
Find from previous literature that actual land of the “ashanti” area was not forest,
but mostly farmland
-Examines Ivory Coast
Mentions that many areas are covered in secondary forests
“there are There exist still some large blocks of primary forest in uninhabited or
uneasily settled regions, in middle Comoe and between Sassandra and Cavally for
example, but in all the inhabited country, the secondary forest dominates”
locally specific descriptions of landscape contradict the image of an uninhabited,
forest zone
Table 7 on pg 28: suggests that deforestation in these countries is probably only
1/3rd of the estiamtes suggested in international circulation
Challenging neo-malthusian images of people-forest relationships
- Reconsidering forest cover change requires 2 elements of population-deforestation
1. Renders invalid the notion that an equilibrium of low/no pop. And undisturbed
forest existed throughout West Afircan forest zone by the 20th century before
modern pop. Growth rates occurred
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