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The Social Lives of ForestsPast, Present, and Future of Woodland Resurgence$
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Susanna B. Hecht, Kathleen D. Morrison, and Christine Padoch

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226322667

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226024134.001.0001

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* Forest as Faunal Enclave: Endangerment, Ecology, and Exclusion in India

* Forest as Faunal Enclave: Endangerment, Ecology, and Exclusion in India

(p.190) 14 * Forest as Faunal Enclave: Endangerment, Ecology, and Exclusion in India
The Social Lives of Forests

Mahesh Rangarajan

University of Chicago Press

India is clearly at a crossroads with fierce contest over the fate of its forests. Claimants of this space include those who see forests as the last redoubt of endangered life forms and others who see access to them as birth right of under-privileged peoples. The roots of the conflicts lie in the distant past. Till as recently as 1800 much of India was forest, whether secondary or primary, with cultivated arable being only islands in a sea of green. Polities embraced incorporated such lands, their resources, and peoples in complex ways. Today, as in the past, forest issues are linked to larger questions of polity and economy. The shape of the forests hinges on the outcomes of hard political choices. Even as global factors loom larger than ever, national and regional politics will play a critical role. It is this creative space for rainbow alliances and coalitions of interest that may well hold the key to the endurance of forests in the coming century. Science as well as history may yet have a role to play: to help create new opportunities while transcending the worst of the past.

Keywords:   India, Animal conservation, Preservation, Colonialism, Environmental history, Environmental politics

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