Decolonizing Nature: Strategies for Conservation in a Post-colonial Era

Decolonizing Nature: Strategies for Conservation in a Post-colonial Era
William M. Adams and Martin Mulligan
Earthscan Publications
Publication Date: 

paper, 308 p., $27.50

Environmental historians and activists address the effects of British colonization on the natural environment in this scholarly publication. Despite the fact that colonization was originally based on the British Empire’s mercantile exploitations of a country’s natural resources, authors William M. Adams and Martin Mulligan suggest that many of the conservation policies have remained intact following the end of colonial rule. These guidelines were extremely structured and formalized, based on scientific knowledge, oriented toward specific goals, and generally separate from the local, informal ways of human interaction with the natural environment. The relevance of this heritage today is the major issue raised in Decolonizing Nature: Strategies for Conservation in a Post-colonial Era, and it is discussed in depth.

Adams and Mulligan call upon contributing conservation authorities, both academics and practitioners from around the world, to explain how attitudes evolved toward the natural environment in the former colonies. Each contributor points out the complexity of contemporary challenges as applied to their individual colony, often starting with the differences in terminology used in the environmental and political fields. Where indigenous people control the direction of conservation activities, there is a striking difference in attitudes toward policy, as compared to those under the direction of "settlers."

This book provides readers with a greater perspective on the history and significance of worldwide conservation policies that guide world leaders today when issues of sustainability are before them.

— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden