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Tropical Forests Of Oceania

Tropical Forests Of Oceania: Anthropological Perspectives OPEN ACCESS

Volume: 10
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: ANU Press
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    Tropical Forests Of Oceania
    Book Description:

    The tropical forests of Oceania are an enduring source of concern for indigenous communities, for the migrants who move to them, for the states that encompass them within their borders, for the multilateral institutions and aid agencies, and for the non-governmental organisations that focus on their conservation. Grounded in the perspective of political ecology, contributors to this volume approach forests as socially alive spaces produced by a confluence of local histories and global circulations. In doing so, they collectively explore the multiple ways in which these forests come into view and therefore into being. Exploring the local dynamics within and around these forests provides an insight into regional issues that have global resonance. Intertwined as they are with cosmological beliefs and livelihoods, as sites of biodiversity and Western desire, these forests have been and are still being transformed by the interaction of foreign and local entities. Focusing on case studies from Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and the Gambier Islands, this volume brings new perspectives on how Pacific Islanders continue to creatively engage with the various processes at play in and around their forests.

    eISBN: 978-1-925022-73-5
    Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Science, Political Science, Sociology
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Table of Contents

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    Across the world indigenous rights activists argue that ‘Land is Life!’ This slogan appears on bumper stickers, T-shirts and posters at demonstrations against large-scale, capital-intensive forms of industrial development that result in indigenous peoples being dispossessed of their customary land-related rights and sovereignty. It indexes the fact that the systematic dispossession of such peoples from their lands has led to the current situation in which they are often living at the very margins of all international indicators of health and welfare. It also means much more than simply that land is important to life. For most indigenous groups globally, their...


    In French Polynesia’s Gambier Islands, contemporary Mangarevans have a disconcerting relationship with their islands’ imputable wilds and forested spaces. Traditionally and generically referred to as thevao, these nature spaces were radically altered by a series of transformative ecosocial projects undertaken by Catholic missionaries beginning in the 1830s. These islands concurrently experienced a massive depopulation in the following decades. As a result, many previously densely inhabited and cultivated bays, and the slopes upland from them on Mangareva and other islands in the Gambier archipelago, acquired a shaggy veneer in categories of local understanding as no-longer and not-quite domestic terrain. A...


    The rainforests of the large mountainous islands of Melanesia are routinely assumed by outside observers to be an example of last remaining wilderness, high in biodiversity, valuable to humankind in general, and somehow largely undisturbed by humans until logging operations escalated in recent decades. But the fact that most Melanesian islands have substantial numbers of people living inland, or at least had inland populations until quite recently, would undermine such assumptions. As Bennett (2000: 18–26) expresses in her history of human interactions with forests in Solomon Islands, the rainforests encountered by the first settlers of the archipelago were ‘opened...


    Since the early days of the 1920s gold rush, the upper Bulolo Valley, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea, has been recognised as a potential source of timber. Early miners used trees to create their camps, fuel their fires, and support the work of panning and mining. As corporate mining took over the principal fields, timber became its backbone. And even as they mined, the expatriate mining community was well aware that the timber had value, that if they could find a route to the coast, the giant klinkii (Araucaria hunsteinii) and hoop pines (Araucaria cunninghamii) might win their weight in...


    In the late 1990s in the Porgera Valley, Porgerans frequently described a common difference to me between their country and mine — the United States. For Porgerans, the common refrain was that Papua New Guinea (PNG) was a free country (fri kantriin Tok Pisin). Whereas everything in the United States costs money, everything in PNG was free — firewood, water, food, building materials and so forth. All one had to do was walk into the surrounding rainforest, cut down trees for lumber, harvest lianas for lashing together timbers, build a house, make a fence, and then plant a garden in the...


    On the bank of the upper reaches of the Aivei River sat an empty cargo container, detritus from a failed logging and oil palm venture initiated in 1993 (Filer with Sekhran 1998: 188–9; Bell 2009). In 2002, when I first encountered this container, the forest was slowly engulfing its blistering orange-red surface (Figure 6.1). All the heavy equipment brought to this site had been removed or scavenged for parts, and the empty cargo container was all that remained. In 2010, when I returned, the container had slipped from the bank and was now submerged in the river. While every...


    Papua New Guinea’s (PNG’s) Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area (CMWMA), a conservation-as-development project that began informally in the late 1970s–early 1980s and that was solidified by national and international conservation policies and practices in the 1990s, effectively ceased to exist in its original form in March 2005. The CMWMA, the oldest Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in the country, was a 2,700 square kilometre area located at the borders of Eastern Highlands, Simbu (Chimbu) and Gulf provinces. The area that the CMWMA encompassed is home to the Gimi and Pawaia peoples who believe that their day-to-day lives and social relations...


    The Papua New Guinea Forest Authority (PNGFA) maintains a database containing all of the forest areas that have ever been designated as potential logging concessions by means of agreements between their customary owners and the national government or the former colonial administration. In a version of this database that dates to the end of 2011, there are 314 such areas, covering a total of 10,953,897 hectares, which is almost one quarter of PNG’s total land area. Most of the agreements had ‘expired’, which means that the areas in question had almost certainly been logged at some time in the previous...


    The rainforests of Papua New Guinea (PNG) have long been regarded as containers of still to be revealed mysteries and wonders. One persistent theme in representations of these rainforests is the lack of visibility that is found inside the rainforest. Another highlights the need for some unique kind of vision, typically provided by science, that would reveal its underlying logic and structure. A third theme is that what the forest ultimately reveals contributes to its own conservation and reproduction.

    Charles Lane Poole, one of the region’s earliest and most influential professional foresters, noted that describing the type of forests found...


    Throughout most of industrialised history, forests have been worth more felled than standing. Countries in the developed world, including Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada and Europe have clear-felled around half of the world’s primary forests to plant agricultural crops, create urban centres, extract wood for construction or burn timber as fuel. In response to the international demand for timber and timber products, most deforestation in the twentieth century has occurred in developing countries, which collectively harbour around half of the world’s remaining natural forest. In the twenty-first century, predictions of global warming have led to a new way of...