- Peace Parks: Conservation and Conflict Resolution
Borderlands are often sites of discord. Ali brings together a range of writers — planners and developers, park managers and diplomats, agronomists and foresters — who formulate a new, ecologically-grounded paradigm that envisages trans-boundary areas as sites for peace and bioregional cooperation, instead of nationalistic conflict. This book examines the 188 peace parks already in existence and suggests many more possible creations. Borderlands come with a range of concerns: in La Frontera (the 2000-mile-long Mexico-U.S. border), drug trafficking and illegal immigration; in the Emerald Triangle forests of Southeast Asia, bushmeat poachers and landmines; in West Africa’s Sapo Taï corridor, illegal [End Page 495] mining and logging, plus rebel insurgencies; in the Kuril Islands, claimed by both Russia and Japan, and the Himalayan Siachen Glacier region of Kashmir, where India and Pakistan square off, keen political tensions. Peace park advocates present “shifting notions of sovereignty” and “alternative constructions of territory” that highlight the mutually beneficial opportunities of ecological cooperation. In Darfur, for example, could the present conflict be reconceptualized to focus on the common threat that desertification poses to all sides? It is a highly idealistic and compelling proposition. A fascinating fact: the Korean DMZ, with all the precariously concentrated geopolitical hostilities attending its military buildup, actually turns out to be a pretty effective nature preserve. Enormous destruction and millions of deaths attended the creation of this buffer, but the opposing armies have guarded against human intrusion for the last half-century, during which time rich and diverse ecosystems have flourished, and damaged forests and farmlands have regenerated.
Randy Malamud is the author of A Cultural History of Animals in the Modern Age, Poetic Animals and Animal Souls, Reading Zoos, The Language of Modernism, and Where the Words Are Valid: T. S. Eliot’s Communities of Drama. He is professor of English at Georgia State University.