Misreading the African landscape : society and ecology in a forest-savanna mosaic / James Fairhead and Melissa Leach ; with the research collaboration of Dominique Millimouno and Marie Kamano.

By: Fairhead, James, 1962-Contributor(s): Leach, Melissa | American Council of Learned SocietiesMaterial type: TextTextSeries: ACLS Humanities E-BookAfrican studies series: 90.Publisher: Cambridge [England] ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1996Description: 1 online resource (xviii, 354 p., [7] p. of plates) : ill. (some col.), mapsISBN: 0521563534; 9780521563536; 0521564999; 9780521564991; 9781139164023 (electronic bk.); 1139164023 (electronic bk.)Subject(s): Human ecology -- Guinea -- Kissidougou (Region) | Landscape assessment -- Guinea -- Kissidougou (Region) | Forest ecology -- Guinea -- Kissidougou (Region) | Savanna ecology -- Guinea -- Kissidougou (Region) | Environmental policy -- Guinea -- Kissidougou (Region) | Kissidougou (Guinea : Region) -- Environmental conditionsAdditional physical formats: Print version:: Misreading the African landscape.DDC classification: 304.2/096652 LOC classification: GF746.2Other classification: 42.90 Online resources: Click here to view this ebook.
Contents:
Convictions of forest loss in policy and ecological science -- Forest gain: historical evidence of vegetation change -- Settling a landscape: forest islands in regional social and political history -- Ecology and society in a Kuranko village -- Ecology and society in a Kissi village -- Enriching a landscape: working with ecology and deflecting successions -- Accounting for forest gain: local land use, regional political economy and demography -- Reading forest history backwards: a century of environmental policy -- Sustaining reversed histories: the continual production of views of forest loss -- Towards a new forest-savanna ecology and history.
Summary: Islands of dense forest in the savanna of 'forest' Guinea have long been regarded by both scientists and policy-makers as the last relics of a once more extensive forest cover, degraded and degrading fast due to its inhabitants' land use. Through meticulous use of historical sources, and an investigation of inhabitants' technical knowledge and practices, James Fairhead and Melissa Leach question these entrenched assumptions. They show, on the contrary, how people have created forest islands around their villages, and how they have turned fallow vegetation more woody, so that population growth has implied more forest, not less. They also consider the origins, persistence and consequences of a century of erroneous policy. Interweaving historical, social anthropological and ecological data, this unique study advances a novel theoretical framework for ecological anthropology, forcing a radical re-examination of some central tenets in each of these disciplines.
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Includes bibliographical references (p. 327-347) and index.

Convictions of forest loss in policy and ecological science -- Forest gain: historical evidence of vegetation change -- Settling a landscape: forest islands in regional social and political history -- Ecology and society in a Kuranko village -- Ecology and society in a Kissi village -- Enriching a landscape: working with ecology and deflecting successions -- Accounting for forest gain: local land use, regional political economy and demography -- Reading forest history backwards: a century of environmental policy -- Sustaining reversed histories: the continual production of views of forest loss -- Towards a new forest-savanna ecology and history.

Islands of dense forest in the savanna of 'forest' Guinea have long been regarded by both scientists and policy-makers as the last relics of a once more extensive forest cover, degraded and degrading fast due to its inhabitants' land use. Through meticulous use of historical sources, and an investigation of inhabitants' technical knowledge and practices, James Fairhead and Melissa Leach question these entrenched assumptions. They show, on the contrary, how people have created forest islands around their villages, and how they have turned fallow vegetation more woody, so that population growth has implied more forest, not less. They also consider the origins, persistence and consequences of a century of erroneous policy. Interweaving historical, social anthropological and ecological data, this unique study advances a novel theoretical framework for ecological anthropology, forcing a radical re-examination of some central tenets in each of these disciplines.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

CHOICE Review

Fairhead and Leach offer a carefully argued case study of a clash in values and underlying assumptions. At stake is the interpretation of the "islands" of forest surrounded by open savanna in Guinea, West Africa. Are these forest islands, which are associated with villages, all that is left as a result of deforestation--a process associated with population increases and the need for firewood and farmland? This is the orthodox view often maintained by Western-trained ecologists, developers, and administrators. The authors, trained in both ecology and social anthropology, present an opposing point of view, elicited from the villagers themselves: the forests are their creation, and are essential in a variety of ways to the maintenance of village life. Fairhead and Leach support their position with evidence from early maps and texts, aerial photographs, and SPOT satellite imagery, as well as by informant testimony. The work argues strongly for discovering local perceptions of landscape processes and incorporating them into ecological studies, a matter of great interest to professionals and advanced students alike. F. P. Conant; emeritus, CUNY Hunter College

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