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* Paradigms Lost

* Paradigms Lost

Tropical Conservation under Late Capitalism

(p.114) 9 * Paradigms Lost
The Social Lives of Forests
John VandermeerIvette Perfecto
University of Chicago Press

The vast majority of conservation work concentrates on the fragments of natural vegetation that remain, and ignores the matrix in which they occur. However, most of the world's biodiversity is located in the tropical world, which is a patchwork of fragments in a matrix of agriculture. The bias that favors concentrating efforts on fragments while ignoring the matrix is far more damaging to conservation efforts than first meets the eye. This chapter argues that the matrix matters in a variety of social and political ways, but, more importantly, it matters in a strictly biological sense. There is now little doubt that isolating fragments of natural vegetation in a landscape of low quality matrix, such as a pesticide-drenched banana plantation, is a recipe for disaster from the point of view of preserving biodiversity. Whatever arguments exist in favor of constructing a high quality matrix, and there are many, strictly from the point of view of biodiversity conservation, the quality of the matrix is, perhaps, the most critical issue. The concept of “the quality of the matrix” must be related to the natural habitat that is being conserved, but most importantly, it involves, at its core, the management of agroecosystems.

Keywords:   Matrix ecology, Fragmentation, Agroecosystems, ideologies of nature, conservation ecology, extinction, political ecology, Latin America, Hudson School of Painting, American nature ideologies

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