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Information for 13509IIED

Reverence and responsibility in forest ethics: Inserting the meaning of life back into the culture of possession.

Duncan Macqueen

Report/paper, 17 pages

Desire for wealth is sweeping aside natural tropical forests. These forests cannot compete in terms of revenue generated per unit area with other land uses. To avert the catastrophic consequences for global human well-being of such forest conversion, values other than profitability must govern forest areas. The paper argues that spiritual reverence and biocentric responsibility deserve a place in the foundations of our forest ethic. We find a pattern to copy in the African notion of ecotheandric balance (balancing the interests of ecosystem integrity, spiritual reverence and human interest). African models of local democracy beneath the palaver tree also offer a way forward (their traditional local meeting place for reaching consensus through discussion). Humanity needs rational alternatives to forest ethics based on maximising individual wealth. It also needs systems of forest governance that are accountable to local communities.

Publication information

  • IIED code: 13509IIED
  • Published: Jan 2005 - IIED
  • Theme: Forests
  • Language: English

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