Why Indonesian Deforestation Persists and Conservation Fails

Bernice Maxton-Lee is a nearly submitted PhD student in the Department of Asian & International Studies at the City University of Hong Kong. Her first academic article is published by JCA, titled “Material Realities: Why Indonesian Deforestation Persists and Conservation Fails” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1402204).

The abstract states:

Indonesia’s deforestation is a crisis of global proportions. Its causes are highly complex, spanning local social and community dynamics to national political hierarchies and global corporate politics, current and historic. Development plays a key role, with global neo-liberal imperatives leveraged, resisted and competing with myriad multi-level agendas and actors. Gramscian analysis of logics and ideology, which combine to construct a global and local “common sense,” helps to explain the mixed messages of policy and conservation, which themselves make Indonesian deforestation and its solutions so complicated. Solutions to forest destruction, presented in the form of payment for ecosystem services, multi-stakeholder initiatives, improved governance and transparency within a neo-liberal market framework, have had limited success. The reason for this limited success lies in the notion, encouraged by multilateral and development thinking, that commodification of communities and nature will also conserve forests. Drawing on fieldwork in Indonesia and the United States, this article argues that discrepancies in development and economic policy, which lead to ecologically destructive outcomes like tropical deforestation, cannot be patched up by innovative market tools. Rather, they reflect irreconcilable flaws in contemporary political economy.

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