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Conservation, Exploitation, and Cultural Change in the Indian Forest Service, 1875-1927

Benjamin Weil
Environmental History
Vol. 11, No. 2 (Apr., 2006), pp. 319-343
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3986234
Page Count: 25
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Conservation, Exploitation, and Cultural Change in the Indian Forest Service, 1875-1927
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Abstract

Although the Indian Forest Service was founded on conservationist principles, by the twentieth century it had become almost exclusively devoted to profitable exploitation of the forests it managed. Quantitative content analysis of the service's primary voice, The Indian Forester, correlates the transition from conservation to extraction to shifts from the dominance of generalists to that of bureaucratic specialists, and from ad-hoc holism to reductionism. Growing emphasis on reductionist science reinforced a mental framework inimical to conservationist arguments based on indirect benefits and appeals to precaution. In the broader culture, these arguments resurfaced in reaction to periodic famines, but by the beginning of the twentieth century, they had lost respectability within the Forest Service.

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