About the Center
West Lake Landfill Panel Discussion
2016 Whitney and Jane Harris Lecture
Previous Awards and Events
World Ecology Award
Conservation Action Prize
Jane and Whitney Harris Lecture Series
Whitney and Anna Harris Conservation Forum
Donate to the Harris Center
Department of Political Science and Fellow, Center for International Studies University of Missouri - St. Louis
The concept of sustainable development seeks to bridge incompatibilities between economic development and the maintenance of environmental integrity. A vigorous discussion has emerged over how to achieve this elusive balance, giving rise to competing interpretations of what sustainable development means. This lack of precision induces critics to doubt the utility of the idea and supporters to zealously defend their definitions against others. Regardless of where one stands on these issues of intellectual merit, due to external and internal pressure governments in the developing world have nevertheless begun to design and implement policies in the name of sustainable development. Moreover, because policies allocate values they generate political conflict.
The following is an effort to clarify some of the fundamental values that stand at the center of the political debate over environment and development. In general, two ideal typical views of sustainable development stand at the heart of the matter; each with its own assumptions, diagnoses of the problem, and policy prescriptions. One of them emphasizes market solutions and large-scale industry while the other favors policies that are more grassroots development oriented and participatory. The discussion then examines how these principles help to disentangle policy options and conflicts in a specific issue area: natural forest policy.
The literature on environment and development posits a strong relationship between economic development, poverty, and environmental quality. Bad economic performance increases poverty which accelerates environmental degradation. Given these findings, the Bruntland Commission first popularized the concept of sustainable development in 1987. It called for a development model capable of meeting the basic needs of a developing country's population without depleting the stock of natural resources in ways that rob future generations of their use. For purposes development economists concurred that sustainable development consists of three main building blocks: a healthy economy, attention to social equity, and environmental quality. And here agreement largely ends, for differing views exist on how to define the properties of these components and the relationship between them.
The dominant approach among top decision makers in Latin America, the United States, and in multilateral lending organizations, such as the World Bank, is a market-friendly one. Healthy economic growth lies at the heart of this approach. To achieve rapid economic growth, developing countries must engage in free-market economic restructuring. That means, building market economies with minimum state intervention, integrating them into world markets, reinforcing private property rights over cooperative efforts, and increasing foreign direct investment. The negative environmental impacts of vigorous economic expansion are considered to be unfortunate side effects. The best way to address the problem is to add technologies that moderate the environmental impact of existing industrial processes (end-of-pipe technologies), rather than finding substitutes or alternative methods.
This perspective largely reduces the problem of social equity and environmental integrity to free-market based economic growth. Rapid economic expansion should improve national per capita income, and therefore standards of living. Targeted welfare programs for the extremely poor, supported by World Bank structural adjustment loans, provide minimum safety nets for those temporarily left out of the market. As expanding economies draw people into national markets such programs can be scaled back. Increase in standards of living alone will have a beneficial effect on the environment. From the market-friendly perspective wealthier people have the leisure to be concerned about environmental quality. Desperately poor people simply degrade it. As long as open political systems prevail, an economically better off and environmentally aware population will organize special interest groups to pressure government into action, and to help implement its policies. In addition to these assumptions, the approach also tends to privilege global environmental problems: global warming, ozone depletion, acid rain, management of the ocean, and urban questions such as waste management. Preservation of remaining wild lands also receives significant attention.
Translated to the forest, the market-friendly view of sustainable development offers the following policy prescriptions. The survival of natural forests depends on giving it economic value. It values trees (not forests) for their contributions to solving global environmental problems such as the reduction of gases that contribute to global warming, fixing soil to keep it from eroding, protecting watersheds. Given this perspective, the market friendly approach privileges the development of large-scale plantation industry. It contributes to global environmental goals, increases social equity by offering employment, and earns foreign exchange. Plantations also promote and deepen market relations in rural areas and undercut cooperative efforts based on an outdated romanticism. This means that projects for poor communities that do not involve large-scale plantations should mainly focus on the incorporation of individual small-scale farmers or peasants into markets. In short, the market-friendly approach endorses private property rights over cooperative ventures and communal ownership. It also recommends the elimination of government subsidies that make deforestation profitable, reducing the role of the state to minimize the impact of bureaucratic incompetence, and then strengthening institutional capacities in sharply reduced spheres of state action.
A more serious preoccupation with institutional capacity-building for national systems of protected areas rounds out the market-friendly approach to sustainable development. It emphasizes funding for research of protected ecosystems, as well as administrative training, better salaries, and more equipment for the system's employees. The funds from market mechanisms such as carbon offset agreements (joint implementation) and genetic prospecting concessions complement the efforts of donor agencies and national budgets.
The grassroots development alternative to the market-friendly view differs on virtually every dimension. It strives to take each of the terms of sustainable development--economic growth, social equity, and environment--into account in their own right, and then seeks linkages between them. Healthy economic growth is certainly necessary, but it alone will not drive everything else. This view also questions whether free market oriented economic restructuring is the best path. The focus on end-of-pipe technology offers few incentives to tackle the roots of the environmental dilemma: existing industrial processes. Moreover, the history of capitalist development on the periphery suggests that market-based growth by itself will not reduce basic social inequalities or promote rapid economic growth.
The grassroots development approach draws many of its values from the ecological movement. Accepting that socio-economic systems will remain basically market-oriented, it stresses more appropriate, smaller scale, decentralized economic activity based on cleaner production processes and products to substitute for highly toxic ones. The state has an important role in the promotion of such change via regulation and incentives. Organized social groups should have ample participation in policy formulation and policy implementation, including decisions about technological packages. These will not arise merely because some groups have an interest in doing so, or because open political inherently provide such channels. Specific arrangements for timely access to information and equal footing at the negotiating table must exist. The invisible hand of competing interests will not produce that.
Taking the concern for citizen participation a step further, this perspective links the improvement of social equity to the social, economic, and cultural self-determination of subordinate class and ethnic-based groups. Policy prescriptions emphasize grassroots development projects that promote local self reliance and control over resources in order to achieve a more equitable distribution of wealth. In rural areas, there is an added emphasis on technologies that mimic natural processes. In urban areas, the approach encourages self-help groups for environmental health, clean-up, and improvement (green belts).
The grassroots development approach to sustainable development is more holistic than the market-friendly one. According to this view, the ecological impact of human activities cuts across economic, as well as social, economic, and political boundaries. Consequently, sector-specific environmental policy must take into account how policies in other sectors affect the proposed project. This requires coordinated action among state agencies and the organizations of civil society.
When it comes to natural forests, the grassroots development view emphasizes the basic needs of impoverished rural populations--peasants and small-scale farmers. Their livelihoods will improve to the degree to which organized communities build small scale cooperative enterprises to manage forest harvests, industrialize the timber, and link up with local, regional, national, and world markets. The approach favors projects that cultivate the multiple use of the forest, both for timber and nontimber products including social forestry and reforestation practices, extraction of nontimber products, and the combination of forestry with agriculture (agroforestry) or ranching. These measures provide peasants with a basket of economically important goods while conserving natural forests.
In short, the focus is on organized communities as a vehicle for the self-determination of subordinate social groups as opposed to the extension of market relations at the community level. This involves specific attention to the issue of community organization as the foundation for community participation, for wide-spread effective organization rarely emerges spontaneously, as is the assumption in the market-friendly view. Only on the basis of such organizational development can communities articulate their needs, mobilize and allocate their resources in labor and capital, and distribute the fruits of the efforts with a reasonable degree of equity.
Preservation of wild lands is mixed with low impact use of resources by peasants, rather than the strictly hands-off stance of the market-friendly view. A flexible approach to the identification of core areas and their respective buffer zones characterizes grassroots development preservation efforts. Projects of the kind described above are prescribed for the buffer zones. The premise is that community organization and adequate livelihood from the buffer zones should preserve the core areas from further encroachment. The core areas themselves can then be linked to vital functions such as watersheds, essential gene pool storing areas, additional income from carbon offset tax agreements and very small-scale tourism. However, such funds should be shared with the organization to strengthen it and with the productive projects as well. Moreover, organized community participation early on in the process of identifying the boundaries of core areas and buffer zones can help to overcome tensions between peasants on the one hand, and ecologists and the government officials that support them on the other hand; tensions which often have adverse effects on the implementation of preservation systems.
Although the argument presents market-friendly and grassroots development conceptualizations of sustainable development as opposites, in reality they are not mutually exclusive. There can be many combinations of the two. Yet the distinction performs an useful analytical function. It nicely reveals the core of the political conflict over the issue of sustainable development. Since Latin American economies are essentially market-based, grassroots development policies cannot totally supplant the market-friendly view. This means that the policy struggle turns more on the issue of consistently including significant elements of grassroots development-oriented concerns in an overall policy package along with improvement of sustainable industrial harvesting of natural forests and wild land preservation. In short, it is more a question of balance than an either-or proposition.
NAFTA AND ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES: A NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR STUDENTS
by Peggy Dotson
Center for International Studies, University of Missouri - St. Louis
With the development of NAFTA, educators from Canada, Mexico and the United States recognize their important role in preparing students to function professionally in the new free trade zone. Student exchange is one of the best avenues of cross cultural education, but finding a way to study in another country, even in North America, can be difficult to arrange due to the differences in educational systems. To overcome these obstacles and increase opportunities for students in these countries, the Institute of International Education (IIE) developed the Regional Academic Mobility Program (RAMP). The RAMP is a consortium of Canadian, Mexican and U.S. universities, working to provide academic and professional mobility in parallel academic programs. The following list of universities are members of the RAMP consortium in environmental studies:
- Universidad Autónoma de Baja California
- Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí
- Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico
- Carleton University
- McMaster University
- Technical University of Nova Scotia
- Université de Montreal
- University of Waterloo
- York University
- UNITED STATES
- Boston University
- Florida Institute of Technology
- University of Cincinnati
- University of Missouri-St. Louis
Students at the member universities have the opportunity to participate in a student exchange program for a summer, semester or full academic year at one of the consortium universities in a neighboring country. Thus, students from the University of Missouri-St. Louis may apply to study at any one of the Canadian or Mexican universities. While abroad, UM-St. Louis students are still enrolled at UM-St. Louis, continue to pay tuition to UM-St. Louis and often still receive their regular financial aid loans and scholarships. Additional scholarships are available through the Center for International Studies for qualified applicants.
This new program is a wonderful opportunity for UM-St. Louis students in environmental studies. While abroad, students take language and cultural course work, and choose from the full curriculum offered. Since each of the consortium universities offers a program in environmental studies, students can often earn credit towards their degree. Other conditions of the exchange vary with each university, such as program duration, language proficiency, intensive language courses, housing options, course offerings and level of study.
The University of Missouri-St. Louis will greatly benefit from its students spending time abroad to learn about other cultures. In addition, our own student body in St. Louis will be enhanced by the presence of students from Mexico and Canada. The first RAMP student to visit St. Louis will be from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM); she will study here during the Fall 1995 semester.
UM-St. Louis students interested in applying for the program should contact Peggy Dotson, the Study Abroad Coordinator in the Center for International Studies. Mrs. Dotson can be reached at 516-6497 or in room 349 SSB. Walk-In advising hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:00-noon and 2:00-4:00.
SUMMER RESEARCH FELLOWSHIPS
Four biology students, Ana Cristina Villegas (Ph.D., Colombia), Ivón Ramírez (Ph.D., Venezuela), Luis Miguel Renjifo (Ph.D., Colombia), and José (Pepe) Tello (M.S., Perú) received summer research fellowships from the UM-St. Louis graduate school. The work of several of those students is described below.
- Ana Cristina Villegas: The Effect of Spatial Variation in Clonal Life History for Population Dynamics of Aechmea magdalenae, a Tropical Understory Bromeliad.
- Ecologically, life history traits are important because they have the potential to determine population level parameters such as population structure, reproductive value, and rate of population growth. The few studies on tropical clonal plants have shown that vegetative reproduction is a common feature in tropical plants, especially in shrub and herbaceous communities. The available data indicate that in the tropics, clonal growth influences population dynamics by playing an important role in spreading the risk of mortality of the genet among theramets, and in the maintenance of plant populations under conditions of low sexual recruitment. However, little is known about variation in clonal life history traits at different spatial and temporal scales, and even less about the effects of this variation on populations. I am using Aechmea magdalenae, a tropical understory clonal bromeliad (pineapple family) to ask three sets of questions concerning clonal plant emography. First, how is variation in clonal life history traits distributed between different geographical localities with different macroclimates and between populations within a locality? Second, what is the effect of clonal life history variation on population parameters? How important are singular life history traits (i.e., vegetation reproduction) for population parameters, and how does their importance vary among populations and geographical localities? Third, to what degree does environment influence life history traits (i.e., patterns and timing of allocation to vegetative reproduction)?
Theoretically, this study is important because it will reveal the potential influence of clonal plant growth on population parameters and its influence on the demography and population maintenance of natural clonal populations. In addition, it is the first tropical study that will compare the demography of different populations of a clonal plant species by following both the demography of rhizome and ramet production. For conservation, it is important to document demographic parameters in order to determine a population's status (i.e., endangered or not) and to develop conservation strategies. Currently, a program is being developed by the Inguede Foundation for the sustainable exploitation of A. magdalenae from natural populations in Chocó, Colombia, to produce fiber. This program requires a better understanding of the demography, population dynamics, and patterns of resource allocation in this species in order to develop a successful plan for sustainable harvest. Thus, my study will help develop a sustainable harvest technique for this forest species, by pointing out the crucial life history stages for the maintenance of the population, and indicating the degree to which the importance of these life history stages varies over space.
- Luis Miguel Renjifo: Effect of Landscape Matrix on the Composition and Conservation of Forest Bird Communities.
- Forest destruction and fragmentation are primary causes of declines of bird populations in the Americas at a continental level, affecting tropical, subtropical, and temperate avifaunas. Habitat fragmentation has two components, both of which may cause extinctions. First is reduction in total forest area, which primarily affects population sizes and rates of extinction; second is redistribution of remaining area into disjunct fragments of forest, which primarily affects dispersal and, thus, immigration rates.
As a result of fragmentation, continuous expanses of forest often are reduced to patches interspersed in an agricultural matrix. Non-random extinctions take place in those isolated habitats. Composition of forest bird communities in such fragments is strongly influenced by factors such as fragment size, isolation, forest composition, and structure, as well as loss of some crucial microenvironments.
There is enormous interest in corridors as means to increase connectivity (i.e., to increase chances of dispersal among fragmented populations; this interest has both theoretical and applied perspectives. Yet, despite receiving theoretical discussion, effects of the matrix itself on connectivity largely has been neglected by empirical studies.
My study is designed to evaluate the influence of contrasting landscape matrices on composition and abundance of forest birds, particularly large canopy frugivores, forest-interior species, as well as globally endangered and endemic species. Specifically, I will investigate bird communities in small remnant fragments of premontane Andean forests in Colombia that are situated within conifer plantations or within pastures (the matrices). Forest plots of similar size and shape will be studied within a large continuous tract of premontane Andean forest as controls.
- José Tello: Lekking Behavior and Ecology of the Round-tailed Manakin, Pipra chloromeros.
- Manakins (Pipridae) are among the most colorful, small passerine birds of the Neotropics. Most members of the family exhibit marked sexual dimorphism, with males typically characterized by brighter colors than females. Males congregate at traditional sites("leks") in the forest where they exhibit complex, ritualized displays, which include dances, songs, and mechanical sounds (e.g., wing "snapping"),to attract and excite females. In some species, each male displays alone, while maintaining an exclusive "territory" within the lek. In other species, two or more males may cooperate in displays. Among the features that characterize members of the Pipridae, is the tendency for morphologically similar species to replace one another geographically. These geographically isolated forms within each genus are generally treated as a single "superspecies". The exceptions are species of the genus Pipra, which are grouped into three superspecies. Superspecies, which are presumed to have a common, immediate ancestor, are particularly important subjects for studies of behavior and evolution because differences in social behavior among species can be assumed to reflect ecological or environmental rather than phylogenetic (i.e., evolutionary history of related taxa) differences. By identifying correlations among ecological and behavioral factors, a better understanding of the ways in which social behavior evolves and speciation occurs can be achieved. At the same time, with a clear determination of the courtship and mating behavior of each species, it is possible to assess degree of reproductive isolation and, therefore, to evaluate the specific or subspecific status of each form.
The Pipra erythrocephala superspecies complex includes four forms, P. erythrocephala, P. rubrocapilla, P. mentalis, and P. chloromeros. A fifth species, P. cornuta, sometimes is included as well. Although some species in this group have been studied previously, my studies on the lek social behavior and ecology of Round-tailed Manakins (Pipra chloromeros) are the first detailed descriptions for this member of the superspecies. One of my overall goals is to help explain the evolution of social behavior within this superspecies.
(Editor's note: Because of his interest in and recognized work with manakins, Pepe was recently invited to participate in a special symposium on manakins, to be held at the V Neotropical Congress of Ornithology, Asunción, Paraguay, in August.
AWARDS AND SCHOLARSHIPS
MARLIN PERKINS SCHOLARSHIPMutual of Omaha's Wildlife Heritage Trust established the Marlin Perkins Memorial Scholarship to honor an outstanding undergraduate who has shown a concern for the world's natural resources and a career interest in conservation. This year, the scholarship is being given to Joseph Perry, for the above reasons and in recognition of his commitment to and volunteer efforts in support of conservation and environmental issues.
Joe has a strong interest in ecology and conservation of fresh water fish, particularly trout, and has contributed significant amounts of time and effort in volunteer activities designed to improve habitat conditions for these animals. He is a three-year member of Trout Unlimited, a fisheries conservation group that is dedicated to the conservation and preservation of salmon, trout, and other cold water species. Joe spent most of the past two summers working with Trout Unlimited groups in Pennsylvania and Missouri in efforts to restore habitats for native species. Joe also is a member of the St. Louis Audubon Society and the University of Missouri-St. Louis Biology Club and is active in both organizations.
ARNOLD B. GROßMAN SCHOLARSHIPThe Arnold Großman Scholarship was established to honor an outstanding graduate student whose major interest is in field biology. Eric Wiener, a Ph.D. student from the U.S. is this year's recipient of the award. Eric has a long standing interest in tropical forests and their management. With the ongoing and extensive loss of tropical rain forests, much effort is being devoted to reforestation programs. Second-growth habitats are increasingly prevalent in many parts of the tropics, so understanding regeneration processes in these habitats is of great importance for reforestation efforts. Through his research in Perú, Eric is trying to determine what factors influence the ability of forest trees to become established in second growth habitats.
RAJU MEHRA AWARDThe Raju Mehra Award honors an outstanding foreign graduate student in biology. Carlos Reynel, a Ph.D. student from Perú, received this year's award. Carlos, a professor in the Department of Forestry, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Perú, was granted this award because of his academic performance and because of his many contributions to the intellectual atmosphere of the graduate program and UM-St. Louis. Carlos will finish his Ph.D. thesis (Systematics of the Neotropical Tree Genus Zanthoxylum [Rutaceae]) this summer and will return to Perú to resume his career at the university. It has been a distinct pleasure and honor for all of us at UM-St. Louis to have had Carlos in our program. We wish him well in all his future activities.
ICTE TROPICAL RESEARCH SCHOLARSHIPSThe International Center helps support student research in the tropics by awarding research money every spring, on a competitive basis. Students and their projects receiving support this year are:
- Aída Alvarez, (M.S., Ecuador)
- "Ecological and systematic study of Saracha (Solanaceae)"
- Sandra Arango, (Ph.D., Colombia)
- "Understanding the distribution and history of regeneration patterns in montane landscapes"
- Gerardo Avalos, (Ph.D., Costa Rica)
- "Acclimation to changes in light of two liana species in a tropical forest"
- Gilbert Barrantes, (Ph.D., Costa Rica)
- "Dynamics of insectivorous and frugivorous birds in two seasonal forests, Costa Rica"
- Teri Bergquist, (Ph.D., USA)
- "Gold mining disturbances and fish community structure in neotropical streams"
- Nidia L. Cuello, (M.S., Venezuela)
- "Variation in structure and floristic diversity of dry forests in the western Venezuelan llanos"
- Catherine Graham, (Ph.D., USA)
- "The role of birds as seed dispersal agents in fragmented habitats"
- Alvaro Herrera, (M.S., Costa Rica)
- "The effect of forest fragmentation on the genetic variation of Quercus seemannii (Fagaceae) and Ocotea pittieri (Lauraceae)"
- Rachel Polster, (M.S., USA)
- "Parental investment and antipredator behavior in Wattled Jacanas"
- Alejandra Soto, (Ph.D., Mexico)
- "Seed rain, seedling survival, and the role of frugivorous birds in regeneration of forest trees in tropical pastures"
- Carolina Valdespino, (Ph.D., Mexico)
- "Establishment of a captive colony of the volcano rabbit (Romerolagus diazi) in Mexico"
- Eric Wiener, (Ph.D., USA)
- "Tree seedling performance across a light gradient in a tropical secondary forest community"