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Peace Parks: Conservation and Conflict Resolution

Peace Parks: Conservation and Conflict Resolution

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Published by The Wilson Center
Rolain Borel reviews Peace Parks: Conservation and Conflict Resolution, in which 31 authors explore the multiple ways in which environmental conservation zones can facilitate the resolution of territorial conflicts.
Rolain Borel reviews Peace Parks: Conservation and Conflict Resolution, in which 31 authors explore the multiple ways in which environmental conservation zones can facilitate the resolution of territorial conflicts.

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Published by: The Wilson Center on Sep 05, 2012
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ECSp rEport
iSSuE 13
2008–2009
110
to individuals without having conducted inter
-
views with them; notably, he did not speak toSherri Goodman and Gary Vest, whose insightsI believe would be central to understanding theopportunities or and impediments to greening the U.S. military.In
Peace Parks: Conservation and Conflict Resolution 
—brilliantly conceived and edited by 
SaleemH.Ali—31authorsexplorethemulti-
ple ways in which environmental conservationzones can acilitate the resolution o territorial
conicts.Aliconcludeswith“asenseofopti-
mism” because the concept o internationalpeace parks (sometimes known as transbound
-aryprotectedareasortrans-frontierconserva-tionareas)isexpandingrapidly(p.341).The17casestudiesgatheredinthisvolumeshow
that ecological actors have the potential tobecome instrumental in peacebuilding; how 
-
ever, much o the evidence is not ully conclu
-
sive, and the role o peace parks in internationalaairs remains in the realm o the possible, noto the certain.
Peace Parks 
is both broad and deep: Part Iprovides a historical overview and methodolog 
-
ical and theoretical perspectives; Part II presentscases o bioregional management and economicdevelopment in existing peace parks; and PartIII oers several visions o uture peace parks. While most chapters are engaging, some contri
-
butions are too long and burdened by unneces
-sarydigressions.Althoughthemajorityofthe
authors are rom the United States, and only seven are rom the Global South, the cases covera wide geographical range.
Twomainfactorsexplainthegrowinginter-estininternationalpeaceparks.AnneHammillandCharlesBesançonclaimitreectsonthe
growing commitment to bioregionalism andthe need to increase the geographic scale o conservation areas beyond national borders.
Ontheotherhand,RosaleenDuffyargues
that peace parks are being promoted as a ormo global environmental governance, reect
-
ing the wider shits in global politics romstate governance to networks o international
organizations.AccordingtoDuffy,thisgover-
nance model is also related to the “extension o 
neoliberalmarket-orientedformsofeconomic
management”—i.e., revenues generated by eco
-tourism(p.57).
Several o the articles address territorial issues:
RaulLejanostressesthat“territorialityhasbeen
the subtext or violent conict” and that it is“ironic that territory is now being turned onits head as an instrument o peace” (p. 41). In
theirrespectivechapters,Ali,MichelleStevens,
and Ke Chong Kim point out that interna 
-
tional peace parks can act as physical bu 
-
ers (e.g., the Sierra del Condor between Peruand Ecuador; the demilitarized zone betweenNorth and South Korea) or as sites o collabora 
-
tive exchange (e.g., “the inormal exchange o 
Peace Parks: Conservation and Conflict Resolution
Edited by Saleem H. Ali Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007. 377 pages.
Reviewed by ROLAIN BOREL
Rolain Borel
ads  Dpamn of envionmn, Pac, and Sciy a univsiy fo Pac in Cosa rica, w ismain inss and acing dis li in fild of nvionmnal conflic solion.
 
EnvironmEntal ChangE and SECurity program
111
inormation on elephant poaching and security 
matters”betweenTanzaniaandMozambique,describedbyRolfBaldusetal.onp.125).ThecaseoftheKurilIslands,whichliebetweenJapanandRussia,illustratesthatter-
ritorial problems are unlikely to be “solved by piling up historical arguments based on inter
-nationallaw,”arguesJasonLambacher,who
asserts that a “new approach needs to unsettlenationalist thinking, and deuse historical griev 
-
ances” as well as oer a “orm o political com
-
promise over the sovereignty issue” (p. 269).In act, it would be irrelevant which country isormally designated the “owner” o the islands,
asjointenvironmentalstewardshipwillrequire
the other’s cooperation.For international peace parks to be eec
-tive,certainconditionsmustbemet.Twochaptersconcludethatpost-9/11security”
measures pose, or example, a defnite threatto international peace parks straddling the bor
-
ders between the United States and Canada or Mexico, in spite o a long history o coop
-
eration between the countries. In less avorablesituations, such as the proposed peace park on
 Afghanistan’sbordersdiscussedbyStephan
Fuller, the critical security situation poses analmost insurmountable obstacle.
Borderareashavetheirownpeculiari-
ties, a lie o their own independent romthe policies o the respective countries. In
theirchapteronLiberia,ArthurBlundellandTylerChristiepointoutthatpeopleoneither
side are oten linked by kinship and mar
-
riage, as well as by local trade and culture.
Relationshipsbetweenactorsintheimmedi-
ate vicinity o the border are usually very uid.
IntheirreportontheSelous-NiassaelephantcorridorinEastAfrica,RolfBaldusandhisco-authorsstatethatborderinhabitantsmore
requently share common underdevelopment
conditionsthanconicts.Therefore,interna-
tional peace parks must not impose externally designed processes on local stakeholders.
Thesecondsectionof
Peace Parks 
assessesexisting international peace parks by identiy 
-
ing their impacts and attempting to separate
theireffectsfromotherinuences.AsMaanoRamutsindelaandAlipointout,the“peace”in
peace parks is not automatic, because it implies a purpose and an impact that are not always pres
-ent.AccordingtoHammillandBesançon,since
peace parks represent the “conuence o severalmutually reinorcing interests, namely thoseo biodiversity conservation, economic devel
-
opment, cultural integrity, and regional peaceand security,” integral assessment tools—such
asthePeaceandConictImpactAssessment(PCIA)—couldbeharnessedtomeasureprog-resstowardsuchbroadobjectives(p.25).TheexperienceoftheGreatLimpopoTransfrontierParkinsouthernAfrica,discussedbyAnna
Spenceley and Michael Schoon, illustrates thedifculty o assessing the eectiveness o suchcomplex initiatives in economic, environmen
-
tal, and equity terms.Chapter authors attribute many positiveimpacts to existing peace parks, including:
•
 Improving the eectiveness o biodiversity conservation in protected areas;
•
Symbolizing ongoing cooperation (which, I
argue,couldalsobeattributedtojointefforts
on many other issues, such as transportation,mail, or the electric grid);
•
 Changing the symbolic meaning o a border
(seechapterbyRamutsindela);and•Reducingdiplomatictensionsthroughjointmonitoring,collaborativeresearchprojects,orjointfundingproposals(seechapterby YongyutTrisuratonIndochina).
Several o the authors also identiy negative
impacts.Alipointsoutthatjustasnational
conservation eorts can create conicts, so caninternational peace parks. In addition to exacer
-
bating political inequalities between local com
-
munities and state actors, international peaceparks can emphasize disparities between coun
-tries,noteHammillandBesançon.AissetouDramé-Yayéandherco-authorsdocumentthe
security threat posed by criminals who fnd the
“W”PeaceParkinWestAfricaasafehavenfor
their activities.

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