Managing Conflict in Wilderness Areas.

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Rhiannon Bryant

Generalisation 3: Managing Conflict in Wilderness Areas

There are many pressures to keep the pristine environments of wilderness areas. But when opposing groups have different ideas about the way to use these areas, much conflict is caused. There are consequently more pressures to then manage these areas to keep them in a pristine condition and keep as many people happy as possible.

There are a number of different strategies used to protect wilderness areas, and the types of method often depend on the size and accessibility of the area. However, with so many opposing ideas for use of wilderness areas, managing can inevitably cause conflict. For example, land zoning may protect certain areas, but environmentalists may argue that the areas that are used for recreation will eventually become exhausted from the original natural beauty. Equally, conserving land with valuable resources such as oil and minerals will create conflict with economists keen to boost local economy, especially in Less Economically Developed Countries. Management can also depend on the level of protection of the area and who protects it. If land is government owned then they will often have the last say but usually an area will be managed based on the interests of the masses, considering both the long-term and short-term effects. If successfully managed then the effects can be overwhelming. The wilderness area will stay in pristine condition, and possibly having to compromise, as many groups will be as happy as they can be.

One of the largest reasons for conflict to exist in these wilderness areas is down to economic development. A prime example would be the Brazilian Government in conjunction with the Amazonian Rainforest. The Government proposed the construction of a dam in the Amazon basin’s Xingu River. The proposed nine hydroelectric plants threatened the entire way of life to the Brazilian Indian Tribe, the Caiapos. The dam would mean that part of the Caiapo reserve would be flooded, destroying their entire traditional way of life. The conflict caused in this case was much more serious than others, as Tuira, a tribe member, threatened to cut the throat of Jose Antonio Lopez, the director of the company responsible for the project.  Ironically, it was the Forest Service that caused conflict stemmed from economic development in Southeast Alaska. They proposed that in order to keep local economy high and many workers in employment, that logging should increase. This was a shocking decision and biologists and environmentalists were fuming. Needless to say the plans did not go ahead. On a much smaller scale the local government in the Lake District are keen to keep tourists flowing into the area which will not only generate a huge revenue but keep a lot of local people in employment. However the desire to keep money rolling in created conflict in a number of different areas. While schemes were being introduced to increase tourism, overuse and over development of certain areas leads to environmental and social conflicts. Soil and footpath erosion is a huge problem in the none-protected areas of the Lake District, raising issues with environmentalists and local farmers. The government sees more profit generated from tourism than from farming so are less willing to aid the needs of farmers in need. This often forces them to give up their traditional way of life that could have been inherited through generations.

There are few places on Earth where there has never been a war, where environment is fully protected, and where scientific research has priority. However, the whole of Antarctica is like this. A land which the Antarctic Treaty parties call a nature reserve, devoted to peace and science. It came into force in 1961 after ratification of the twelve countries then involved in Antarctic science.

The Treaty covers the area south of 60ºS latitude. Its objectives were simple yet unique in international relations: -

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  • To demilitarise Antarctica, to establish it as a zone free of nuclear tests and the disposal of radioactive waste, and to ensure that it is used for peaceful purposes only;
  • To promote international scientific co-operation in Antarctica;
  • To set aside disputes over territorial sovereignty.

The Treaty remains in force almost indefinitely. The success of the treaty has been the growth in membership. 44 countries, comprising 80% of the world’s population, have acceded to it. Consultative status is open to all countries who have demonstrated their commitment to the Antarctic by conduction significant research. 27 nations have consultative ...

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