Deforestation or Development

Deforestation or Development

'Deforestation or Development', which is based on empirical data gathered during 13 months of in-depth fieldwork in 2014 and 2015, provides a holistic understanding of the causes of forest loss in Zambia. It demonstrates that much ‘knowledge’ about deforestation in Zambia has been based on an array of assumptions and stereotypes, but not on everyday experiences or interaction with those said to be responsible. The work provides rich empirical insights into all salient practices leading to forest loss in Zambia. While the focus remains at village level, connections to the greater region or the capital city are also included in the analysis. 

The material presented challenges the dominant discourse on Zambian deforestation, especially with regard to poverty and the production of charcoal, both of which have long been blamed for the loss of forests. It will be argued that the general perception of Zambia having large tracts of unutilised land is fundamentally flawed. Eventually, the thesis explains why only certain practices are, quite literally, seen as ‘deforestation’ whereas others are rather seen as ‘development’. Finally, it is argued that this particular way of seeing deforestation, as well as political interference, have undermined efforts to halt forest loss.
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