Coffee Hour is the Miller Lecture with Anthony Bebbington: Mapping forest threats: the challenge of infrastructure and extractive industry

Friday, April 14, 2017 - 3:00pm
Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:00 p.m. The lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.

Forest Loss in Guatemala

About the Miller Lecture

The department's Miller Lecture Series is designed to bring eminent geographers to Penn State and is a gift to the Department of Geography from the late E. Willard and Ruby S. Miller. E. W. Miller was a Professor of Geography, department head, and associate dean emeritus in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

About the talk

Debates over the Amazon forest in the 1970s established the adverse effects of large scale infrastructure on forest cover and forest peoples. Yet while scholars and activists in geography and related fields demonstrated the political and economic factors shaping forest conversion, the war over who in practice gets to determine the extent of forest cover continues to wage on. Forests have become increasingly disputed territories, and those disputes challenge the maintenance of forest cover and the rights of populations who live from the forest. In these disputes over forests, the expansion of extractive industry investment and investment in infrastructure play a particular role. This is the case for large and small-scale of extraction and infrastructure alike. This talk presents on-going work that attempts to assess the extent and significance of these two sectors as threats to forest cover, with a focus on the Amazon, Indonesia and Mesoamerica. The work explores the factors driving these contemporary pressures on forests and potential strategies to mitigate such pressures. Such strategies might be viewed as constituting a practical political ecology for land cover alternatives. Theoretically the analysis draws on political settlements theory, though the thrust of the paper is primarily empirical and reflects the result of a collaboration between GIScience, development geography and a group of foundations seeking ways to reduce forest loss and enhance forest community rights.

About the speaker

Anthony BebbingtonAnthony Bebbington is Higgins Professor of Environment and Society and Director of the Graduate School of Geography at Clark University, and Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Manchester. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Oxfam America, and also a member of the US National Academy of Sciences. He has worked primarily in Latin America, especially in the Andean countries and El Salvador. Over the last decade, his research has addressed the relationships among expanded investment in extractive industries, patterns of development, socio-environmental conflict and environmental governance. He is currently coordinating two projects: one on the political drivers of mining governance in Bolivia, Ghana, Peru and Zambia; the other on the implications of extractive industries and large scale infrastructure for forest cover and forest dependent community rights in Amazonia, Indonesia and Mesoamerica.

Suggested readings

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Coffee Hour