Profit Priorities and Cost Distribution: Sociocultural and ecological impacts of Chilean forest management
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Questions: What does the government prioritize when facing conflicting social, environmental and economic demands? What are the impacts and how can these demands be balanced in a responsible, progressive and humanitarian way? This research uses a political ecology framework to discuss the sociocultural, economic and environmental implications of Chilean forest management practices. This is a critical analysis of the Chilean government?s priorities, which currently promote an extractive export economy at high social and environmental costs. Despite a growing economy, the wealth disparity in the country is vast and continues to expand. I argue that the government must reorient its focus away from GDP and toward more valuable measures of the country?s health. Public funds need to be redistributed to benefit the people in the country and the country?s natural treasures rather than subsidizing private industry to attract wealthy foreign investors. This shift in priorities must be implemented in strong, creative policy that supports simultaneous economic growth, environmental preservation, and social justice. This project is based on personal experiences, interviews and observations from when I lived in Chile during the spring of 2006, as well as on secondary sources that provide scientific and statistical evidence. I describe the history of the forest plantation development, the government?s role in creating the industry that exists today, and current statistics that show the scope and significance of the industry. Different sources present conflicting evidence depending on their interests, demonstrating the complexity of the controversies around the social and ecological impacts of the forest plantations. Various avenues for change are possible: policy restructuring, market control methods, improved ecological management, and social and environmental activism promoting government and citizen awareness and responsibility. Government leaders are integral to promoting human rights and environmental preservation and it is their responsibility to prioritize these goals at least as much as private investment.
latin america; forest policy; indigenous rights; Chile economy
dissertation or thesis