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Last StandProtected Areas and the Defense of Tropical Biodiversity$
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Randall Kramer, Carel van Schaik, and Julie Johnson

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780195095548

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195095548.001.0001

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Biodiversity Politics and the Contest for Ownership of the World's Biota

Biodiversity Politics and the Contest for Ownership of the World's Biota

(p.115) 6 Biodiversity Politics and the Contest for Ownership of the World's Biota
Last Stand

Steven E. Sanderson

Kent H. Redford

Oxford University Press

In the course of the past decade, biodiversity has become one of the most important concepts guiding conservation and development at the global level. From the 1972 U.N. Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm, to the 1992 U.N. Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro, concern for biodiversity loss has spawned international treaties, national laws, and community conservation strategies. This concern for biodiversity, however, has not been clearly translated into increased conservation of biodiversity, for a variety of fundamental reasons. Biodiversity has traditionally been the domain of natural scientists and conservation activists. The first group has focused on the importance of biological diversity for scientific inquiry; the second group has concentrated on the impact of lost biological diversity on social and ecological systems, and has advocated policies to conserve the earth’s biota. Increasingly, both groups-and many other constituencies, from sport hunters and fishers to pharmaceutical companies—have fought out the battle over biodiversity in public arenas. The weapons have included national parks and protected areas, species and genetic conservation programs in the field and in other locations such as zoos, private nongovernmental organizations chartered for “‘genetic prospecting” activities, and integrated small-scale development programs that have a putative conservation side-benefit. Even as this battle continues, some agreement—if not a consensushas begun to emerge about biodiversity, which has provided a foundation for common cause among the various constituencies described above. Conservation has become use. The value of biodiversity has come to be determined according to economic criteria alone. Conservation and sustainable development, it is declared, not only can go together but are part of the same cloth. Ecological values and economic values are purported to be congruent. This position masks two disturbing realities that underpin the specific tasks of this chapter. The first reality is that the concerns that fostered the original concept of biodiversity have been surrendered—even forgotten—in the struggle for common ground, to the detriment of science and conservation. The second is that biodiversity and sustainability are far from scientific concepts.

Keywords:   Agriculture, Brazil, Conservation Biology, GATT, Hunting, Intellectual property rights, Lake Victoria, Montreal Protocol

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