Planetary changes associated with the Anthropocene challenge longestablished ideas and approaches within biodiversity conservation, such as wilderness, wildness, native and exotic species, species and ecosystem diversity, and what counts as success in biodiversity conservation. This article reviews and analyzes how the Anthropocene is being used within the literature on biodiversity conservation. It finds that the idea of a new epoch has been used to frame a broad range of new approaches and concepts to understanding and stemming the loss of biodiversity. These new ideas are diverse and sometimes contradictory, embracing a range of ethical values and positions. Yet the term Anthropocene is not widely used within the biodiversity conservation literature. Despite the cross-disciplinary nature of the Anthropocene, interdisciplinary research on these new concepts and approach is rare, and the insights of the humanities are almost entirely absent. Debates about conservation in the Anthropocene are a continuation of long-running controversies within conservation, such as how it should relate to human development, and over the concept of wilderness. Overall, this review demonstrates that the literature on biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene is not well established, is both diverse and new, while echoing longstanding debates in conservation, and it indicates the direction such literature might take in future.
A Critical Review of the International Development of Voluntary Biodiversity Offsets
This article analyzes the international development of voluntary biodiversity offsets, a conservation instrument that permits developers to pursue their activities if conservation actions are undertaken elsewhere to compensate for the environmental impacts of their projects. Largely undertaken by extractive industries that operate in the global South where no offsetting regulations exist, this tool is currently attracting growing interest from policy makers, private companies, financial institutions, and conservation experts. Building upon the concept of market framing developed by Callon (1998), I explore in what contexts and through what processes this idea has gathered momentum, as well as the disturbing gap between the way it has been framed and its practical implementation. It is suggested that once immersed in the outside world, the market framing of offsets appears as a fragile result dependent upon substantial investments, which casts serious doubts about offsets' ability to reduce biodiversity loss on technical, governance, and social grounds.
Politics of memory, variety, and empire in Latvian struggles over seeds
Guntra A. Aistara
In March 2012, a small farm in Latvia with a collection of over 200 tomato varieties was charged with the illegal sale of seeds not included in the European Union's Common Catalogue. The farm's collection includes traditional Latvian varieties that have never been officially registered, Western varieties imported illegally during the Soviet years, and Russian varieties that came into use during the Soviet years and are now defended by Latvian gardeners as "traditionally grown" and representing the taste of their childhoods. The debate highlighted the continuing struggle over Latvia's geopolitical positioning between Russia and the European Union and control over seeds as a tactic of empire. I explore the cultural memories embedded in the contested tomato seeds and how they contribute to an intertwined imaginary of the Latvian landscape idyll with a Soviet sociality. I argue that the innovative resolution to this conflict represents a process of transculturation in a contact zone between empires (Pratt 1992).
Geographical Indications, Rural Development, and the Environment
Fabio Parasecoli and Aya Tasaki
The article highlights relevant issues within the global debate on geographical indications, as they relate to food products. Geographical indications, a form of intellectual property designated by considering principally the place of origin of products, have become a hot topic among producers, activists, economists, and politicians worldwide. Commercial and legal issues related to them have generated complex negotiations in international organizations and national institutions, while their cultural aspects have stimulated theoretical debates about the impact of global trade on local identities. Geographical indications could become a valid tool to implement community-based, sustainable, and quality-oriented agriculture, depending on the sociopolitical environment and whether they are relevant for the producers involved, affordable in terms of administrative and management costs, and applicable on different scales of production. The article also explores the environmental impact of geographical indications and their potential in ensuring the livelihood of rural communities in emerging economies and promoting sustainable agricultural models.
J. Cristobal Pizarro and Brendon M. H. Larson
Human mobility necessitates that people adapt not only to a new society but also to a new natural environment and biodiversity. We use birds as biodiversity proxies to explore the place experiences of 26 Latin Americans adapting to Canada and the United States. Using interviews with open-ended questions, we prompted participants to identify birds that were linked to remarkable experiences in both places of origin and immigration, which we coded respectively as “roots” and “routes.” Participants reported foundational keystone species linked to their cultural heritage and conspicuous key species they associated with self-realization in the new place. Linking species, involving connections between roots and routes, triggered a process of place recalibration in association with key and keystone birds that worked as points of reference. We suggest that biodiversity offers critical social functions that need to be addressed by social integration programs promoting conviviality between humans and nature in the Anthropocene.
Pierre Du Plessis and Sanal Mohan
John Hartigan Jr., Care of the Species: Races of Corn and the Science of Plant Biodiversity. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 376, 2017.
Luisa Steur, Indigenist Mobilization: Confronting Electoral Communism and Precarious Livelihoods in Post-Reform Kerala. New York: Berghahn, pp. 302, 2017.
Enhancing Community-Based Biodiversity Conservation
Maria Costanza Torri and Thora Martina Herrmann
From time immemorial, local and indigenous communities in India have developed traditions, representations, and beliefs about the forest and biodiversity. The cultural practices and beliefs of a community play a significant role in enhancing community-based initiatives, particularly in achieving sustainability in the long term. Nevertheless, too often conservation policies do not take into consideration the link between the culture of local communities and their environment. A comprehensive understanding of the relationship between cultural traditions and practices related to biodiversity and their current status and manifestations is crucial to the concept of effective and sustainable conservation policy. This article examines the traditional practices of the communities in the Sariska region (Rajasthan, India) as well as their beliefs and their values, underlining the special relationship that these tribal and indigenous communities maintain with the forest and their usefulness in community-based conservation. Some conclusive remarks on the importance of adapting conservation approaches to local cultural representations of the environment will be drawn.
This paper analyzes public understanding and moral reasoning with regard to regulating nature, specifically, societal efforts to control an insect population. It presents a study of a Swedish case in which a biological insecticide has been used to fight mosquitoes to reduce the nuisance to the local population. This case involves conflicting values regarding environmental protection. People's right to outdoor life is placed in opposition to long-term risks to biodiversity. Through interviews with local residents, their deliberations on the spraying are analyzed, particularly concerning to what extent and how they describe the situation in moral terms, but also how they acknowledge and use scientific findings in their argumentation.
Karin M. Gustafsson and Rolf Lidskog
For many countries, the IUCN Red List of threatened species is a central instrument in their work to counteract loss of biodiversity. This article analyzes the development of the Red List categories and criteria, how these categories and criteria are used in the construction of global, national, and regional red lists, and how the red lists are employed in policy work. A central finding of the article is that this mix of actors implies many different forms of boundary work. This article also finds that the Red List functions as a portable representation, that is, a context-independent instrument to represent nature. A third finding is that the Red List functions as a link between experts and policy makers. Thus, the Red List is best understood as a boundary object and hybrid practice where the credibility of scientific assessment and a specific policy is mutually strengthened.
David S. Trigger and Lesley Head
How are preferences for “native” and “introduced” species of plants and animals given expression in Australian cities? Given the nation's predominantly European cultural heritage, how do urban Australians articulate multiple desires for living environments encountered in everyday life? In examining the cases of inner city parks, backyards, and more general views about flora and fauna appropriate for the city, the paper considers a range of deeply enculturated attachments to familiar landscapes. While residents have considerable interest in the possibilities of urban ecological restoration, our interviews, ethnographic observation, and textual analysis also reveal cultural preferences for introduced species and emplaced attachments to historically modified landscapes. These preferences and attachments are linked to senses of identity developed during formative life experiences. In the relatively young post-settler society of Australia, such drivers of environmental desires can sit uneasily alongside science-driven propositions about what is good for biodiversity and ecological sustainability.