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1.8.03

Co-Existence Good For People And Wildlife, Conservationist Says

[David Western] increasingly believed humans (and their farming activities) and wild animals (and their habitat) could co-exist and benefit from each other. Western became a leading advocate for involving local communities in conservation efforts.

... Similar to what has happened in the United States, much of Kenya's grasslands has turned into thick shrub. On the other hand, as more people have acquired land titles, they have helped curb deforestation by planting trees and terracing their farms.

"It's a surprising conclusion," said Western. "More people, less erosion."

... "When you take the human element out of the [national] park, you always have a slump in diversity," he said.


This shouldn't be all that surprising. But we've focussed so much on the destructive aspects of human impacts on the environment (for good reason) that concerned people tend to see our species as inevitably a blight on the landscape, defiling the purity of nature. Exceptions are sometimes made for hunter-gatherers, who are thought of as "natural." I'd speculate that the classical liberal tradition has contributed as well by raising "leave it alone" to the status of the highest moral duty toward "it" ("it" being other humans in the classical liberal tradition of freedom to be the ideal automomous individual). This attitude has provided fodder for critics of environmentalism (the folks over at the Ayn Rand Institute are masters of this genre) to caricature environmentalists as anti-civilization and even anti-humanity.

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