Course:CONS200/2019/Upsides and downsides of environmental activism in halting or reducing deforestation in the Global South. Does environmental activism ever ‘hurt’ the cause?

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Introduction

As the Global South countries economy grows, the deforestation becomes a serious problem and causes environmental degradation. In recent years, the environmentalist has begun to take some action to prevent this phenomenon. their actions have significant effects on the environment.

Environmental activism

Definition

Environmental activism (including green consumption) can serve as a collective course of action to support environmental movements[1]. Environmental activism falls within the scope of environmental behaviours [2]; however, Stern (2000) argues that environmental activism differs from various types of pro-environmental behaviours in terms of its impact and the environmental protection intent[3]. Despite only an indirect activists’ influence on environmental issues, by influencing public policy, their impact may also attain significant relevance through contributing to changing the behavior of other individuals and institutions. Moreover, environmental activism represents a factor that mobilises environmentally friendly behavior, shaping green buying behaviours[4].

Environmental activism

Background

The roots of modern environmental activism lie in the nineteenth-century formation of the first environmental organizations. Typically representing the interests of conservationists and natural historians, such groups were formed in Europe and North America, covering interests as diverse as animal welfare (e.g., Britain’s Royal Society for the Protection of Animals); Forestry (e.g., George Perkins Marsh’s 1864 Man and Nature, which introduced notions of sustainability); national parks and wilderness preservation (e.g., America’s Sierra Club founded in 1892; Britain’s National Trust in 1895); and urban sanitation (a favorite cause of Britan’s Victorians). Awareness of environmental issues was aided by writers such as Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, William Wordsworth, and Beatrix Potter, who used it as the centerpiece of their work. Texts on natural history became popular in Europe. Active interest in natural history also encompassed botany, collecting (e.g., butterflies and ferns), and gardening, feeding membership of relevant organizations and clubs[5]. In the mid-twentieth century, environmental activism shifted its focus to local concerns of environ-Mental degradation. Localized concerns—nuclear power, toxic waste, acid rain, road building—found expression in the era’s increased political activism[6].

How environmental activism works

Environmental activism incorporates a long‐term form of activism that deploys relationships among networks of unanimous individuals and fosters routine behaviours as the locus for social and environmental change. This type of activism not only provides important social and community support which facilitates environmental actions, but also contributes to long‐term cultural change[7]. Environmental activism as purposeful and effortful engagement in behaviours aimed at both protecting, preserving and improving the quality of the environment, and raising public awareness about environmental issues[8]. Such behaviours include, but are not limited to protesting, supporting, petitioning, educating the public, lobbying government and corporations and volunteering[9].

Two methods

Environmental activists get involved whether in fund raising campaigns or in signing petitions, are commonly members of environmental groups, and try to influence other people's attitudes and behaviours toward the environment by writing letters to policy makers[10]. Furthermore, activists also engage in activities with wider objectives such as attracting attention to particular issues and exerting efforts to target specific companies to bring about changes in the latter's behaviours[11].


The Global South

Global South is a protean term, shifting its meanings chameleon-like across various epochs and contexts. It has come to denote various forms of political, environmental, social, and epistemological agency arising out of the erstwhile colonized nations – what was once known as the Third World[12].

PROBLEM IN GLOBAL SOUTH

Deforestation

It has been estimated that 20% of all tropical forests, totaling 450 million ha, disappeared between 1960 and 1990[13]. Over the last 25 years, commencing from 1990, though the pace of destruction has decreased, deforestation nevertheless remains ongoing in the tropics. Of the three continents where extensive tropical rainforests are distributed, namely South America, Africa, and Asia, the area of rainforests is the least in Asia, and in recent years (2000–2005), the rate of deforestation has been the highest on this continent[14][15]. Deforestation in Latin America, which is greatest in terms of its areal extent, is mainly caused by cattle grazing and soybean production. Typically, deforestation entails the conversion of a large area of Amazonian rainforests into agricultural fields and pastureland. Subsequently, roads into the rainforest are constructed, planned, and executed by the state in the name of economic development[16].

Deforestation

Drivers

Geist and Lambin (2001) proposed a simplified structure of deforestation drivers categorized into two causal types: proximate and underlying[17]. Proximate causes of deforestation are human activities that directly affect the environment. Underlying driving forces comprise a complex of social, political, economic, technological, and cultural variables that collectively constitute the initial conditions in human-environmental relations[18]. In other words, proximate drivers are direct human actions that alter forests, whereas underlying forces are social/systemic conditions that influence these human actions. Major proximate drivers of deforestation include the expansion of farming fields, cattle pasture, and human settlements; timber logging; and production of pulp and wood fuel, including charcoal extraction[19]. Farming is a major driver of deforestation in Africa, where a substantial area of forests has been cleared to open up agricultural fields for shifting cultivation and for commercial agricultural production[20]. In Asia, and especially in Southeast Asia, oil palm plantations occupy by far the largest proportion of the area of converted forests. Whereas logging has not caused large-scale deforestation in other continents, in Asia, and especially in Southeast Asia, the presence of large quantities of a few commercially important species has led to commercial logging becoming a major driver of deforestation[21].

Environmental activism in reducing deforestation

Positive influence

By reducing the deforestation by environmental activism, the available resource of the forest significantly increases especially in the south of the world. They believe that the most serious problem that leads the environment getting bad and the lose of biodiverse is because of the abuse of forest which means the overcut. That is a kind of overdraft if we just leave the problem there and no one takes the responsibility to solve this problem. But now environment activism butt into it. They are not afraid of offending some local organizations by hurt those benefits. Only goal they want to achieve is to protect the environment, the earth which the place we live. Also the theory that reduces deforestation is not equal to ban it, but we need to do it in a sustainable way. Environment activism trying to let most producers in the global south know that not which part of the area that can be cut off even good for the forest. So that they protect the environment at the same time the local people still have the money to make.

Ten Reasons Why We Need To Reduce Tropical Deforestation

Here are just 10 reasons why investing in forest protection initiatives is in the nation's best interest:

1. Global warming is global. Every molecule of CO2 traps heat in Earth’s atmosphere, regardless of whether the CO2 comes from the tailpipe of a car, the smokestack of a coal-fired power plant, or the burning of a tropical tree. Thus, to address global warming, we need to reduce the CO2 produced everywhere on Earth, not just in the United States.

2. Tropical forest emissions are significant. About 10 percent of carbon emissions come from tropical deforestation—equivalent to the annual tailpipe emissions of 600 million average U.S. cars. Deforestation is happening at an alarming rate—an acre of tropical forest every second. We cannot address global warming effectively if we ignore 10 percent of the problem.

3. Global warming solutions protect our citizens. We pay for climate disruption every day in the form of hurricanes, droughts, floods, heat waves, and other dangerous weather events that pose significant health and economic risks. These risks will grow more severe if CO2 emissions continue to increase. Addressing global warming today will save lives and money for years to come.

4. Tropical forests are necessary for stabilizing our climate. Tropical forests not only provide oxygen for us to breathe, but also take CO2 out of the atmosphere and store much more carbon than forests in temperate regions (like those in the United States). Losing such forests greatly hampers Earth’s ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere and avoid the worst effects of global warming.

5. Reducing deforestation is cost-effective. Economic analyses have shown conclusively that reducing emissions from deforestation is considerably less expensive than reducing emissions from fossil fuel combustion and other industrial sources.

6. Ignoring deforestation is unfair for good businesses. Timber from tropical deforestation, and particularly illegal deforestation, undercuts landowners who are managing their forests sustainably. By reducing tropical deforestation, we reduce unfair competition with ecologically sound forestry.

Deforestation need to be reduce

7. Reducing deforestation is inexpensive for the United States. Analyses from the Union of Concerned Scientists, the European Commission, and the government of Great Britain all agree that for about $20 billion per year, deforestation-related emissions can be cut in half by 2020. The United States would need to contribute only $5 billion—about 25 percent of the total global investment or just 0.1 percent of the annual U.S. budget—to help get the job done.

8. Solutions exist today for reducing deforestation. Tropical countries are not waiting to reduce deforestation. Brazil, for example, has reduced its deforestation-related emissions by two-thirds in just six years, and Indonesia, a large emitter of global warming pollution because of high rates of deforestation, has pledged to cut overall emissions by more than 25 percent by 2020. Other tropical countries are implementing “pay for performance” systems in which they will only receive compensation after they reduce their emissions. Increased investment in forest protection measures can help ensure there are many more success stories like these.

9. Stopping deforestation addresses multiple challenges. Preserving tropical forests helps protect the millions of plant and animal species—many of which have been invaluable to human medicine—that are indigenous to tropical forests and in danger of extinction. Keeping forests intact also helps prevent floods and drought by regulating regional rainfall. And because many indigenous and forest peoples rely on tropical forests for their livelihoods, investments in reducing deforestation provide them with the resources they need for sustainable development without deforestation.

10. Addressing deforestation shows we are serious about our future. To protect the world that our children will inherit from us, we must act swiftly to reduce global warming emissions both here and abroad, and from all sources.[22]

Economy And Agriculture Even Growth Without Deforestation

Actually, most tropical countries not that rely on the deforestation to make their economy growth. On the opposite, the areas which have less deforestation are benefit for agriculture to produce more food for local people.

More forest, less poverty: Brazil’s economy can grow without deforestation

Brazil succeeded in reducing Amazon deforestation by more than 80% since 2005 while maintaining robust growth in beef and soy production. There are at least about 56,000 km² of degraded cattle pasture in the Amazon that can be reclaimed for agriculture, as well as ample scope for intensifying cattle raising and improving yields, freeing up even more land.

Agriculture and land-use scientist Bernardo Strassburg argues that by increasing average productivity of pasture in Brazil from the current 30% of its potential to about 50%, Brazil could meet all new demand for commodities until 2040 with no new deforestation. The benefits to smallholders would be also important, considering the already deforested area (12.7 million hectares) available for agriculture expansion in rural settlements. With appropriate technical assistance and credit smallholders could produce more food (smallholders account for 80% of food production in the Amazon) with less deforestation.[23]

Reduce Deforestation Benefit For Biodiverse

It became clear that a REDD+ mechanism can deliver multiple benefits. In addition to mitigating climate change, REDD+ can support livelihoods, maintain vital ecosystem services and preserve globally significant biodiversity. Therefore, discussions on the linkages between REDD+ and biodiversity conservation increased and a number of research projects and policies were developed around the issue. Parties to the CBD noted that the benefits will not necessarily be automatically achieved. However, if REDD+ is well designed and properly implemented, it would have unprecedented benefits for forest biodiversity. [24]

Reduce deforestation, protect biodiversity

Brazil's Success in Reducing Deforestation

Environmental activism has been crucial to success, in paving the way for Lula's government, in creating the societal context in which deforestation became an important issue for the political leadership, and as agents of continuing pressure on both government and businesses to carry out their plans to reduce deforestation[25]. They extended far beyond the environmental NGOs, to include other interest groups such as unions, indigenous peoples' organizations, and rural and forest workers as well as political parties. The rapid progress in the second half of the decade of the 2000s, rested on a foundation constructed by tireless organizing – often unrelated to environmental issues – over many decades [26].

Does environmental activism ever ‘hurt’ the cause?

While success stories in the global south help promote and advocate the positive effects of environmental activism, environmental activism has been shown to ‘hurt’ the cause. In the global south, various forms of conservation have had various degrees of success in helping to halt or reduce deforestation. Environmental activism, and the pursuit of various conservation means in the global south can lead to unintended and harmful consequences on an ecological, social, and financial scale. When dissecting the effects of environmental activism in the global south it is important to evaluate how the methods of conservation being introduced may also be harmful to humans and the environments. Through this analysis one can determine if environmental activism is actually doing more harm than good in the fight to reduce and ultimately stop deforestation in the global south. Conservation practices and mechanisms such as community-based management, payments for ecosystem services, and the implementation of fencing can in some cases ‘hurt’ the cause of conservation goals.

The Downsides of Community-Based Management

Recently, the popularity of community-based management has seen an increase due in part to environmental activism. While government run community-based management programs such as the Indian government’s Joint Forest Management program claim to see success, some evidence suggests they may not help the cause of stopping deforestation[27]. For example, Madagascar’s community-based management programs were found to have an equal amount of deforestation compared to non-community managed sites[28]. This suggests that while environmental activism favors community-based management, this favor may not actually equate to results in the global south. Furthermore, this influence from environmental activists urges governments to spend money supporting community-based management when it may not be helping the cause in the first place. In addition to not decreasing deforestation, community-based forestry can bring about increased inequality in the distribution of wealth while providing lower than average wages to those engaged in such programs[29].

The Downsides of Payments for Ecosystem Services

One major conservation mechanism heavily advertised and pushed by environmental activism in the global south is payments for ecosystem services. Payments for ecosystem services are any reward driven program with the goals of conserving or supplying ecosystem services[30]. In Brazil, payments for ecosystem services have successfully led to a 70% reduction in deforestation[31]. Although, this historic reduction is not without issues, some of which particularly effect those of lesser status within the global south. This fixation on payments for ecosystem services has negatively affected poor landholders in Brazil with reduced access to markets for their goods and finances for their agricultural operations[32]. Furthermore, these landholders can face fines and prison sentences[33]. At the same time, these very farmers face pressure over the legal title of their land if they choose to forgo deforestation. In Brazil, those who settle on undeveloped public or private land have a right to privately exploit them and gain legal title to the land[34]. With a reduction and halt in deforestation, this opens up more property for squatters to settle on and claim. This could lead to a land loss for farmers who support the environmental activists halt in deforestation as developed agricultural lands are less likely to be invaded by squatters.

The Downsides of Fencing

Fencing is another conservation technique supported by environmental activism. Fencing is a common conservation technique used across the globe with a multitude of specific use cases. Fencing in environmental activism is the act of conserving a species within a predetermined or ‘fenced in’ area. While fencing is typically put in place to manage wildlife it can demark land and deter the illegal logging and squatting on land seen in the Brazilian Amazon[35]. Fencing is a useful tool in the arsenal of environmental activism as it has a plethora of benefits for conservation efforts. However, the tool has many negative affects associated with it that affect the global south. Fencing has been shown to be harmful to animals. It can be harmful by preventing animals from escaping forest fires as well as killing small animals trapped inside electrical fence lines[36]. From a financial standpoint, the implementation of fencing is costly to setup and maintain[37]. Fencing also reduces or prevents the immigration, emigration and migration of animals which can have greatly reduce gene flow between populations[38]. This reduction in movement can additionally stop animals from grazing or hunting across a large area of land.

Conclusion

As we mentioned, most countries in the south of the world like South Africa and South America rely on the economy which forest brings to them to develop their country. In those developing countries, the benefit of deforestation takes a huge part of their domestic income. Although it is hard to change this situation in the short term or even hurt those countries, the result leads to reducing deforestation is unquestionable. That is not related to the benefit or profit for the individual, but for the whole world, the place we lived and proud of, we have to do everything we can to protect the environment as what environmental activism did. Thus, we support what they did even though those activities really hurt the benefit in local. Not only for reducing forestation but also any kind of activities that aim to protect the environment, those are the duty and business for all human-being.

References

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