unrestricted access to the mineral reserves located on tribal territories, and to incorporate the Indians into the colonization and development programmes planned for the region" (see D.Treece, this issue).
Although the rhetoric is now of "greening" development poli cies, little or nothing has changed on the ground. Repeatedly, we find environmental "safeguards" being flouted, "guidelines" being ignored and environmental protection being relegated to mere window dressing (see K.Thomson and N. Dudley, this issue). In deed, in Brazil's case, the government's "Our Nature" programme (superficially intended to protect Amazonia) is being cynically exploited to short-circuit the territorial rights of indigenous groups in order to enable the government to permit mining, logging and other 'development' projects on Indian lands. Thus, "environ mental protection" has been invoked to justify more than 50 per cent of the Yanomami's traditional territory being designated as "National Park" or "Forest Reserve", categories that deny the Indians their rights over the land and which specifically allow for its economic development.
Better Management: No Solution in Itself
But it would be wrong to blame the failure of national governments to stem the tide of deforestation on political cynicism alone. The truth is that the policies inherent in current development strate gies are beyond "greening", for it is the policies themselves — rather than simply their implementation — that are at fault
First, the very nature of many of the technologies and proc esses involved make large-scale environmental destruction in evitable. In the case of large dams, for example, the technology dictates that large areas of forest will be flooded. Thus, the 68 dams which the Brazilian Government is seeking to build in Amazonia will at the minimum inundate an area the size of Wales. No mitigatory measures can prevent such flooding. Nor can better planning and management 'undo' the damage done to the tradi tional cultures uprooted as a result of dam projects or 'mitigate' for the loss of tropical forest, where a single hectare may contain up to 400 trees, every other one a different species — diversity which can never be reconstituted by a reforestation programme. Simi larly, no measures can 'safeguard' against the inevitable invasion of waterborne diseases following the filling of a dam's reservoir or the downstream effects on aquatic life.
Second, by their very nature, measures intended to mitigate the effects of development are "band aid" solutions. They do not, and are not intended to, challenge or remedy the underlying social, political and economic dynamics of deforestation, let alone the nature of the development process itself. Their role is to soften the impact of a given project not to prevent that impact from occurring in the first place: not surprisingly, their implementation is considered secondary to ensuring that the project proceeds. Indeed, they are the first budget items to be cut should the project run into financial difficulties.
Third, the belief that better management will avert ecological disaster in Amazonia (or indeed elsewhere) assumes that the root cause of the destruction lies in poor management. Yet, in most instances, this is only partially true. In the case of pasture-led deforestation, for example, the driving force behind further clear ance lies not in any economic gains to be made from rearing cattle but from land speculation. As Susanna Hecht (this issue) points out: "The fact that the ancillary benefits of ranching are not linked to production, and will accrue under good or bad management (indeed, in the short-term, bad management brings higher re turns) means that technological solutions are likely to have little impact on deforestation patterns."
Finally, the philosophy underlying the notion of "mitigatory measures" is based on the premise that there are "acceptable" levels of environmental damage and social disruption which can "traded-off" against future economic benefits. But even if those
benefits were realizable, it is often forgotten that the damage incurred with each trade-off is incremental. Taken on a project-byproject basis, the damage incurred by the development process might (for the sake of argument) be considered "acceptable"; but, when the sum total of the destruction caused is totted up, the overall impact is intolerable. A forest flooded by a dam here, a river polluted there, a hillside torn apart for minerals there — and sooner rather than later, the capacity of the biosphere to with stand the assault on its vital life support system is overwhelmed.
False Solutions Given their commitment to maintaining the status quo, it is not surprising that both national governments and the international development community have ignored or played down the funda mental role of current development policies in causing the de struction. As a consequence, the official solutions to the crisis are as ecologically and socially bankrupt as the policies driving deforestation are suicidal. Indeed, far from stemming the tide of deforestation, the proposed "solutions" will effectively seal the fate of the forests and the peoples who depend upon them for their livelihoods.
The Tropical Forestry Action Plan:
A case in point is the Tropical Forestry Action Plan (TFAP), now being promoted by the World Bank, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the UN Development Programme. The Plan trivializes the pre-eminent role played by dams, plantations and other development practices in the destruction of forests, and instead blames the victims of the development process — lan dless peasants, for example — for causing deforestation. Inevi tably, no measures are put forward to curtail, let alone halt, such projects, despite their having been responsible for most of the deforestation that has occurred over the last 40 years. Having failed to address the primary causes, the TFAP thus effectively ensures that the destruction can only continue.
Moreover, despite an avowed commitment to ecological resto ration, only 10 per cent of TFAP's proposed budget is allocated for the protection of forest ecosystems. The regional plan for Latin America, for example, envisages only 1.5 per cent of the planned expenditure being spent on conservation. Indeed, the Plan is less concerned with the preservation of forests than with the setting up of commercial plantations of fast growing species, such as eucalyptus, which not only have a serious adverse effect on the environment, but which also do little to benefit the poor. Thus in Latin America as a whole, it is intended to invest between $2 billion and $2.8 billion a year for the next decade in the industrial development of the region's forests. Control over the forests would be taken away from local forest-based communities and instead vested in external agencies, whose prime concern is the rate of return on their investment. If implemented, the TFAP would therefore result in the large-scale transformation of natural for ests — as well as prime agricultural land — into industrialized plantations producing "commercial" timber for sale.
The International Biodiversity Plan:
Alongside the Tropical Forest Action Plan, the World Bank is actively pursuing the goal of a global 'Biodiversity Action Plan'.
Stemming the continuing loss of biological diversity worldwide is undoubtedly an urgent priority. Genetic erosion is leading both to the extinction of life forms which have a value in themselves and to increased ecological vulnerability. However, the World Bank's proposed programme, like those proposed by other
The Ecologist, Vol. 19, No. 6, November/December 1989 official agencies, fails utterly to address the issue — and like its sister plan, the Tropical Forest Action Plan, could well exacerbate the problem.
Genetic erosion in the Third World has primarily resulted from development policies which have replaced indigenous agricul tural and forestry practices, which rely on exploiting a wide variety of species (and thus encouraging maximum genetic diversity), with monocultures which result in genetic uniformity. Yet, the continued spread of genetic uniformity is perversely viewed as a means of ensuring "biodiversity conservation." For example, the World Bank has recommended the intensification of monoculture practices in forestry in order to "preserve biological diversity".
Instead of ensuring biodiversity by incorporating the principles of conservation into agricultural and industrial processes, the Plan proposes "set-asides" and "reserves" of wilderness areas as the primary instrument for conservation. However, merely setting aside reserves in the remaining (relatively) undisturbed ecosys tems of the world is a hopelessly inadequate response to the current loss of biodiversity.
One problem is that no-one knows how large individual re serves would have to be in order to survive in the long-term. It is becoming clear, for example, that the integrity of the primary rainforest may require that very large areas are left intact. Judy Rankin, a botanist working in the Amazon, has found that isolated patches of primary forest of 10, 100 or even 1,000 hectares cannot sustain themselves. Within a couple of years of the forest being cleared, the remaining patches show distinct signs of degradation, particularly at the edges of the plots where trees are uprooted because of the penetrating winds. Worse still, there is the danger that, once created, reserves will be used as an excuse for exploiting areas which have not been set aside.
The promotion of biotechnology as a solution to the problem of genetic erosion is also a major cause for concern. Corporate interests view patent protection as a prerequisite for innovations in biotechnologies. One fear is that international patent and licensing agreements will increasingly be used to secure a monopoly over valuable genetic materials which can be devel oped into drugs, food and energy sources — thus ushering in a new era of "bio-imperialism".
Already major pharmaceutical companies are screening and collecting natural plants through contracted third parties, often "sneaking" plants out of Third World countries rather than nego tiate payment through the proper channels. The National Cancer Institute of the United States has sponsored the single largest tropical plant collecting effort by recruiting ethnobotanists to document the traditional medicinal uses of plants and other species: yet the indigenous peoples who willingly give of this knowledge are unlikely ever to share in the profits from the development of new drugs or other products.
A Radical Alternative The flaws in the TFAP and the Biodiversity Plan point the way to the political and economic changes that are most urgently re quired if the forests of Amazonia are to be saved. The broad outline of those changes has been sketched in a 'Manifesto'* recently drawn up by the World Rainforest Movement and submit ted to the United Nations as part of a wider campaign (initiated by The Ecologist) to pressure the United Nations to hold an Emer gency Meeting on Deforestation (see page 210 this issue and The Ecologist, Vol. 19, No.5). The three most important immediate steps proposed are as follows:
• To call a halt to all those practices and projects which
would contribute either directly or Indirectly to further forest loss; • To revise radically the policies of those agencies that
currently finance the projects and practices causing
The Ecologist, Vol. 19, No. 6, November/December 1989
deforestation. Funding for such projects should be ceased and instead directed towards projects that pro mote the protection and regeneration of forests;
• To empower forest peoples and those who depend
directly upon the forests for their livelihoods with the responsibility for safeguarding the forests and ensur ing their regeneration. This will require not only the granting of land rights but also ensuring that forest peoples have the right to a decisive voice in formulating policies for their areas.
Wider Changes But, as the WRM Manifesto recognizes, the future of the forests cannot be ensured if the problem of deforestation is tackled in isolation. It will require wider changes in both the regional and global political economy. Within the Amazon countries, for ex ample, the underlying social, political and economic forces that are driving landless peasants into Amazonia must be addressed. Here the solutions must centre on relieving the pressure of the iinternational debt burden and on land reform. In Brazil, where 42 per cent of the country's cultivated land is owned by just one per cent of the population, half of the population are landless. Rural violence, rocketing rents and the encroachment of the big estates lead to daily dispossession among the rural poor. Yet there is no shortage of fertile soil: indeed, were land reform to be carried out effectively, there would be enough land for everyone without having to cultivate a single hectare of Amazonia. Yet the best land — in the south of the country — is being used to grow cash crops for export.
Nor, without deeper changes in society and the economy, will empowering local forest peoples with the duty of safeguarding the forests ipso facto ensure their protection. Over millennia, forest peoples have developed sustainable methods of exploiting the forests without causing their destruction (see D. Posey this issue). But as Peter Bunyard, (this issue) points out: "The intro duction of a consumer-oriented western model of development could destroy within a generation the adherence of Indians to their traditional production systems, especially by undermining the authority of the traditional leaders — the community 'captains' and shamans — whose role it is to oversee the activities of the entire community."
It is an appalling dilemma. On the one hand, there is scarcely an indigenous group in Amazonia which remains untouched by the market — indeed most now demand consumer goods — and on the other, there is the stark historical fact that the greatest threat to indigenous culture, apart from disease, has been the gradual encroachment of what is broadly termed the "consumer society". Addressing that problem will not be simple: yet, as Marcus Colchester (this issue) documents, successful examples do exist of Indian groups being able to enter the market without jeopardizing their culture or their environment. Much depends on the Indians having the time to gain experience in handling, and making decisions to control, social change. From this point of view, the two greatest menaces to the Indians are imposed development and the loss of their lands.
Beyond Tinkering with the System
Underlying the destruction of Amazonia (and indeed the general degradation of the biosphere as a whole) is an economic system which sees "wealth" merely in terms of capital accumulation, primarily through the production of material goods. It is a system which demands the systematic transformation of the biosphere into commodities for sale: which places no value on the ecologi-