Misreading the African Landscape: Society and Ecology in a Forest-Savanna Mosaic

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Cambridge University Press, Oct 17, 1996 - Social Science - 354 pages
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Islands of dense forest in the savanna of 'forest' Guinea have long been regarded both by 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. In this 1996 text, 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 fascinating study advances a novel theoretical framework for ecological anthropology, encouraging a radical re-examination of some central tenets in each of these disciplines.
 

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This is a deeply humane book that undermines the enormous conceit of development theory. Brilliant research and a command of the assumptions it assails, Fairhead and Leach have written a classic.

Contents

Convictions of forest loss in policy and ecological science
24
historical evidence of vegetation change
55
forest islands in regional social
86
Ecology and society in a Kuranko village
115
Ecology and society in a Kissi village
149
working with ecology
176
local land use regional
210
a century
237
the continual production
261
Towards a new forestsavanna ecology and history
279
Glossary of plant names
296
Cassette recordings of oral accounts and discussions
310
List of references
327
Index
348
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