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From Rainforest to Cane Field in Cuba
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In this award-winning environmental history of Cuba since the age of Columbus, Reinaldo Funes Monzote emphasizes the two processes that have had the most dramatic impact on the island's landscape: deforestation and sugar cultivation. During the first 300 years of Spanish settlement, sugar plantations arose primarily in areas where forests had been cleared by the royal navy, which maintained an interest in management and conservation for the shipbuilding industry. The sugar planters won a decisive victory in 1815, however, when they were allowed to clear extensive forests, without restriction, for cane fields and sugar production. This book is the first to consider Cuba's vital sugar industry through the lens of environmental history. Funes Monzote demonstrates how the industry that came to define Cuba--and upon which Cuba urgently depended--also devastated the ecology of the island. The original Spanish-language edition of the book, published in Mexico in 2004, was awarded the UNESCO Book Prize for Caribbean Thought, Environmental Category. For this first English edition, the author has revised the text throughout and provided new material, including a glossary and a conclusion that summarizes important developments up to the present. This book is the English translation of De bosque a sabana: Azúcar, desforestación y medio ambiente en Cuba, 1492-1926, published in 2004 by Mexican publisher Siglo Veintiuno Editores. In this environmental history of Cuba beginning when Columbus first arrived in 1492, Funes emphasizes the two processes that have had the most dramatic impact on the island's landscape: deforestation and sugar cultivation. Spanish colonists quickly began to use the island's lush forests for naval construction and lumber exports, and the cleared land became plantations for sugar production. This book is the first to consider Cuba's vital sugar industry through the lens of environmental history, also combining the history of science, agrarian history, and social, economic, and legal history. The industry that came to define Cuba, and on which Cuba urgently depended, also devastated the ecology of a large, heavily wooded tropical island. For this English translation the author worked with the translator to revise the text throughout and he has added a glossary and a conclusion summarizing important developments to the present day. In this environmental history of Cuba since the age of Columbus, Reinaldo Funes Monzote emphasizes the two processes that have had the most dramatic impact on the island's landscape: deforestation and sugar cultivation. Funes Monzote demonstrates how the industry that came to define Cuba--and upon which Cuba urgently depended--also devastated the ecology of the island. The original Spanish-language edition of the book, published in Mexico in 2004, was awarded the UNESCO Book Prize for Caribbean Thought, Environmental Category. For this first English edition, the author has revised the text throughout and provided new material, including a glossary and a conclusion that summarizes important developments up to the present. In this award-winning environmental history of Cuba since the age of Columbus, Reinaldo Funes Monzote emphasizes the two processes that have had the most dramatic impact on the island's landscape: deforestation and sugar cultivation. During the first 300 years of Spanish settlement, sugar plantations arose primarily in areas where forests had been cleared by the royal navy, which maintained an interest in management and conservation for the shipbuilding industry. The sugar planters won a decisive victory in 1815, however, when they were allowed to clear extensive forests, without restriction, for cane fields and sugar production. This book is the first to consider Cuba's vital sugar industry through the lens of environmental history. Funes Monzote demonstrates how the industry that came to define Cuba--and upon which Cuba urgently depended--also devastated the ecology of the island. The original Spanish-language edition of the book, published in Mexico in 2004, was awarded the UNESCO Book Prize for Caribbean Thought, Environmental Category. For this first English edition, the author has revised the text throughout and provided new material, including a glossary and a conclusion that summarizes important developments up to the present.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. pp. 1-1
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  1. Title Page, Copyright
  2. pp. 2-7
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-xii
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. xiii-xvi
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-6
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  1. 1. The Omnipresent Forest and the Beginnings of the Sugar Industry
  2. pp. 7-38
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  1. 2. Shipbuilding and the Sugar Industry, 1772–1791
  2. pp. 39-82
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  1. 3. The Struggle over Private Ownership of Forests, 1792–1815
  2. pp. 83-126
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  1. 4. Sugar and the Absolute Freedom to Clear Forests, 1815–1876
  2. pp. 127-178
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  1. 5. Centralization of the Sugar Industry and the Forests, 1876–1898
  2. pp. 179-216
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  1. 6. North American Capital and Sugar’s Final Assault on the Forest, 1898–1926
  2. pp. 217-262
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  1. Conclusion: From Forests to Sugar: An Insignificant Change?
  2. pp. 263-276
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  1. Appendix 1: Scientific Names of Plants and Animals
  2. pp. 277-280
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  1. Appendix 2: Temperature and Precipitation in the Natural Regions of Cuba
  2. pp. 281-282
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  1. Appendix 3: Units of Measure, with Equivalents
  2. pp. 283-284
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 285-328
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  1. Glossary
  2. pp. 329-332
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  1. Bibliographic Essay
  2. pp. 333-342
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 343-358
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