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* Stories of Nature’s Hybridity in Europe

* Stories of Nature’s Hybridity in Europe

Implications for Forest Conservation in the Global South

(p.31) 3 * Stories of Nature’s Hybridity in Europe
The Social Lives of Forests
Roderick P. Neumann
University of Chicago Press

Do human activities improve nature or diminish it? Neo-Malthusian environmentalist thought and the idea of humans as destroyers of nature's balance remain a powerful discourse shaping interventions in rural land uses in the colonial and postcolonial territories of European empire. Great uncertainty and absence of empirical evidence have led “environmental orthodoxies” or “degradation narratives” to dominate scientific understanding of environmental change and state-led nature conservation practices in the Americas and throughout the colonial world since the time of Marsh's Man and Nature (1864). In recent decades, ideas of wilderness, primeval nature, and stable climax communities have given way to ideas of nature–culture hybrids, socially produced nature, and second nature. Although some have attacked these as politically dangerous, the European Union has embraced hybridity, rather than duality, in biodiversity conservation strategy. This chapter positions the EU biodiversity narrative within a global one to illustrate deep philosophical and ideological differences in conceptualizing nature–society relations from one world region to the next, and examines EU policies as a first step toward rethinking the causes of and solutions for biodiversity loss in the Global South.

Keywords:   Ideologies of nature, African conservation, European conservation, Neo-Malthusian, landscape management, hybridity, degradation narratives, biodiversity

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