Note: This post is rather jumbled and rambly, I think. Just that I’ve been hearing so much about so many different things that my mind is all kind of jumbled up and difficult to organise. And it’s not happy things I’ve been hearing about 😦
Mother Nature is resilient. Of that, there can be no doubt. Nature will always find a way to claim back what was hers. Read “The World Without Us“. But at the pace of our development and damage, there is little breathing space for all other natural beings sharing this planet with us humans.
We clear forests for plantations, for houses, for their timber, not recognising that the land belongs to the animals living in the forests for centuries, millenia. We claim the forests as ours to use for our own purposes, not recognising that the land belongs to the indigenous communities that have been living off that same piece of land for centuries. And when animals start venturing out of the forests into “our land”, we start screaming, calling the authorities, and ordering them to be killed/culled/trapped or otherwise forcibly removed from their land (or our sight). And while indigenous tribes are not obviously a threat to the rest of “civilised society”, they are still usually forcibly removed from their land as well, forced to relocate or integrate into modern society.
There are Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) who try to make things better, in ways they think are the best. Here in Gerik, Perak, Malaysia, there are a few main NGOs working on wildlife issues: World Wildlife Fund–Malaysia (WWF-Msia), TRAFFIC – the wildlife trade monitoring network, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Malaysian Nature Society (MNS). With regard to land management, I suppose there is little NGOs can do, except try to make sure that biologically rich areas (essentially all of Malaysia, before it got deforested??) don’t end up as industrial areas and even so that is fraught with difficulties, issues about development vs conservation. But poaching is a problem that is irrefutable.
However, talking to people working in MNS/used to work in WWF, it appears that even so, little is done. It just ends up with a lot of taichi-ing, and little collaboration and cooperation with the local authorities (Perhilitan, the wildlife department of Malaysia) to act. But I guess it’s the same everywhere, only in different places different contexts perhaps. It’s too depressing to know that people can do something about it but aren’t!
Reading one of the recent publications in the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement No. 25, The dissonance of conservation: Environmentalities and the environmentalisms of the poor in eastern Indonesia (Maribeth Erb, 2012) I realise it’s really the same, all over the world. And another recent article by Rhett A. Butler on Mongabay about Building indigenous resilience in the face of land-grabbing, deforestation in Malaysian Borneo including an interview with The Borneo Project
There’s the desire to conserve natural resources (or, if we’re skeptical, under the pretext of conservation), yet indigenous communities get victimised, while corrupt officials and corporations profit. There are international NGOs trying to help, yet sometimes they do not communicate with the locals and find out what they need. But instead, come up with their own solutions that don’t work that well and dont benefit the local community. Though of course, that’s not always the case, as The Borneo Project shows. And many others that do good work under the radar, I’m sure (:
All we need to do, really, is to leave Nature alone, to give our natural world a break. After all, we need it for our survival as well, cos conservation is a selfish thing, like I said previously.
Probably the best solutions for all the problems we have now would be for human population to be drastically reduced, for all our environmentally-damaging and geologically-altering processes to be halted and for us to go back to farming and living off the land.
But we also know that will never happen. So I guess, I should just accept urban nature as the de facto scenario of the future. Since 70% of the world population will be living in cities by 2050. After all, a City in a Garden is better than Thneedville. Will it be that wilderness will become a thing of memories, old documentaries and such? Although where we will get our ecosystem services from, I can’t fathom. Or will it be that all of humanity will live in walled-up cities, sustainable and liveable cities of course, while the wilderness, forests and such remain outside, uninhabited?
Can we afford to give Mother Nature a break? Can we afford not to?