Forest and Land Management in Imperial China by Nicholas K. Menzies

By Nicholas K. Menzies

Even supposing China is usually thought of to have suffered non-stop deforestation over such a lot of its historical past, forests have been safe or perhaps planted and maintained for hundreds of years in a few locations. This examine identifies six such situations. It makes use of old facts to teach that folks and groups act to control assets sustainably for a couple of purposes together with fiscal gain, spiritual or symbolic reasons, and that sustainability of the administration method relies on the shape of keep watch over exerted over the source.

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More fundamentally, and of more universal significance, the gap between ideal and actuality in the treatment of the environmental demonstrates, as Yi-Fu Tuan has said, that we must 'recognize inconsistency and paradox as characteristic of human existence' (Tuan, 1970: 244). With respect to forestry and resources management in particular, the dichotomy between an ideal of harmony with nature and the evidence of exploitation of resources points to a deep-rooted contradiction at the heart of the profession itself, between an ideal of conservation as preservation, and a more utilitarian view of management for productivity.

It is perhaps more startlingly apparent in China, though, where the long written records adds historical depth to the visible effects on the land of the pressures of population, the vagaries of warfare, and political interventions in land use. 2 Forest Stability and Decline: A Delicate Balance THE PROBLEM OF DEFORESTAnON Deforestation is still seen as a serious problem today by both Chinese and foreign writers, and there is some debate about the extent of the problem, its causes, effects and possible solutions.

Myers (1980: 7-8) uses the term 'conversion' rather than deforestation, and describes the concept as a continuum between the two extremes of modification (a change in composition and structure, and transformation). The passage of time adds another dimension to deforestation. The immediate impact of forest clearance or conversion may be destructive, but their effects on forest cover are not always permanent. 1 During the eighteenth century, European travellers in the north-eastern USA were shocked by what they considered to be the wanton destruction of some of the finest temperate forests in the world (Cronon, 1983, ch.

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