|In Place of the Forest: Environmental and Socio-economic Transformation in Borneo and the Eastern Malay Peninsula (UNU, 1990, 310 pages)|
|Appendix : A discussion of environmental and PROCEZ criticality|
What has been relevant?
The problems of interpretation discussed in this Appendix have significance for the manner in which we presented and analysed environmental and societal change in our region. There is heavy pressure on natural resources (forest resources in particular), but also on some soils and increasingly on energy sources. For the species-rich natural forests themselves this impact is certainly critical, and for large areas may already be post-critical. For other elements of the biosphere the impact is, as we saw, far more patchy and uncertain.
The extent to which resource depletion threatens human occupancy and well-being is problematical and selective, especially since this region is "frontier" to a wider and more populous area in which economic development and social improvement are advancing apace. In so far as there is endangerment or criticality in these latter respects, we found that it flows as much from the development strategy itself, and its differential impact on the region's people and industries, as from environmental change.
Two widely publicized aspects of the situation in this region were, however, important. One is the effect of deforestation on biodiversity and on global climate, both matters of wide extra-regional concern. The other is alleged criticality for the forest-dwelling people and their livelihood. A third, of less widespread international concern, is the sustainability of new activities made possible by forest depletion and degradation. All these are areas in which a strictly environmental criticality, as we define it, has potential importance, and we gave some prominence to the identification, or refutation, of such environmental criticality in our analysis. However, the dominant force is economic development, together with population growth in what is still, in the main, a sparsely peopled region. In so far as the state of economy and of welfare are indicators, we could not ignore the evident fact that their main determinants lie outside the environmental sphere. In writing a report on a PROCEZ case-study, we were therefore concerned with the interplay between rapid but uneven economic and social change, the biophysical environment that it affects, the changes taking place in that environment, and societal consequences, both within the region and beyond it.
1. The first part of this Appendix draws substantially on ideas presented in a paper by Brookfield, written in 1992 for publication in a collection edited by N. F. Glazovsky intended to be published by the Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences. Up to the time of completion of the present book, this publication has still not appeared.
2. In their revisions, Kasperson, Kasperson, and Turner (1995) draw quite heavily on some of the definitions proposed by Blaikie and Brookfield (1987), albeit with some modifications, most of which Brookfield would accept. The present discussion, however, still stands in its own right and only necessary changes have been made.
3. We perhaps witnessed such a conflict in verbal form in the preparations for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. In a preliminary meeting of the developing countries at Kuala Lumpur in April, the Prime Minister of Malaysia was a prominent advocate of a developing country view that was hostile to the developed lands regarding the distribution of responsibility for global environmental protection.
4. Here we draw on discussion at a workshop on "Environmental Change, Economic Decline, and Civil Strife," organized by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the University of Toronto, and held at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in November 1991. Brookfield's arguments, voiced at the meeting but unpublished, are reflected here.