The Delicate Balance: Environment, Economics, Development
Conservation in a Human-Dominated World
To advance conservation throughout the world, we must foster fairness and democracy based on sound principles and good science.
Forging a tangible connection among environment, development, and welfare is a formidable challenge, given the complex global interactions and slow response times involved. The task is made all the harder by quickening change, including new ideas about conservation and how it can best be done. Present policies and practices, vested in government and rooted in a philosophy that regards humanity and nature as largely separate realms, do little to encourage public participation or to reinforce conservation through individual incentives and civil responsibility. The challenge will be to make conservation into a household want and duty. This will mean moving the focus of conservation away from central regulation and enforcement and toward greater emphasis on local collaboration based on fairness, opportunity, and responsibility. Given encouragement, such initiatives will help reduce extinction levels and the isolation of parks by expanding biodiversity conservation in human-dominated landscapes.
The problems that beset current conservation efforts are daunting. Three factors in particular threaten steady economic and social progress as well as conservation: poverty, lack of access rights linked to conservation responsibilities, and environmental deterioration. Poverty and lack of access rights, especially in Africa, will keep populations growing and will fuel Rwandan-like emigration and political unrest. With short-term survival as its creed, poverty accelerates environmental degradation and habitat fragmentation. The peasant lacking fuel and food will clear the forest to plant crops or will poach an elephant if there is no alternative. So, for example, tropical forests--home to half the world's species--are being lumbered, burned, grazed, and settled. Forest destruction precipitates local wrangles between indigenous and immigrant communities over land and squabbles between North and South over carbon sinks and global warming.
We cannot rely on the trickle-down effect of economic development and liberalism to eradicate poverty, solve access problems, or curb environmental losses--at least not soon. It was, after all, unfettered consumerism in the West that killed off countless animal species, stripped the forests, and polluted the air and water. And the same consumer behavior and commercial excesses are still evident, depleting old-growth forests and fighting pollution legislation every step of the way.
The policies, practices, and institutions needed to imbed conservation in society should therefore aim to change the perceptions of conservation from a cost of development imposed by outsiders to an individual and public good central to human advancement and welfare. To succeed, conservation must be as widely understood as hygiene and as voluntarily practiced as bathing.
The rise of modern conservation
The modern global conservation movement began in 19th- century Europe, triggered by the impact of population growth and industrialization on the environment. Growing affluence, education, mobility, and democracy saw popularly elected governments whittle down the aristocratic monopoly on natural resources, including forests, game, and fish. By mid-century, Germany had set aside national forest plantations to maximize timber yields and regulate hunting. By the turn of century, jurisdiction over natural resources had passed largely into government hands throughout the Western world. In the United States, the first national parks had been set aside to save grand natural monuments such as Yellowstone and Yosemite.
Coinciding as they did with mass migration from farm to city, the new conservation laws placed wildlife not only in government hands, but also effectively in those of the urban majority. Having retreated from nature, the urban populace began to see nature itself as a retreat from the grime and ugliness of industrial cities. Western science reinforced the growing distinction between humanity and nature. Nature became a balanced and self-regulating system in the eyes of scientists--the analog of technology's greatest industrial achievement, the steam engine. By the 1930s, the emerging field of ecology contributed the principles on which modern conservation practices were founded: maximum sustained yield and protected areas.
The conservation movement was disseminated worldwide largely through colonialism. However, under colonialism, transfer of traditional ownership patterns of natural resources to government meant foreign domination, not conservation by and for the citizenry. The implications for conservation were dire. East Africa, where I grew up and saw the backlash emerge in the period leading up to independence, is typical.
At the turn of the century, the colonial powers in East Africa established hunting quotas in an effort to save some of the major forms of wildlife. Although saving the elephants and other species from the excesses that decimated the bison and exterminated the quagga, the new laws denied indigenous hunters their traditional rights. The sentiments of one Samburu elder were typical of what I heard time and again but that game departments steadfastly ignored: "The government has placed value on these animals, but they are of no value to us any more." Wildlife, once considered "second cattle" that saw pastoralists through droughts, became a European privilege and an African burden.
Later, rising populations and competition for space saw colonial officers push through the establishment of scores of national parks in advance of independence. But, like all parks until the past few decades, East Africa's were set aside to protect natural wonders, not biodiversity. The massed wildebeest herds of Serengeti and Amboseli were Africa's natural monuments, and parks to "protect" the herds were hastily set aside without the benefit of ecological surveys or knowledge about the migration patterns. Consequently, the parks neither spanned habitat diversity nor covered migratory ranges. They nonetheless won support in the Western world and among many African leaders. The response locally was altogether different. "First they took our animals, then our land," was the common view. In Tanzania, national parks were pejoratively called "Shamba la Bibi," meaning the queen's garden.
Expectations ran high that independence would restore rights to use wildlife. Instead, economically strapped governments, under pressure from the Western world and in need of hard currency, set aside more parks to generate tourism. Local resentment deepened further.
Having lived through the transition, studied wildlife, and directed Kenya's wildlife agency, I think that had it not been for action taken by colonial and national governments, East Africa's wildlife would be a shadow of what it is today. That said, the animosity toward conservation, compounded by a host of new challenges, is fast eroding past gains. There is a renewed urgency to reformulate conservation polices and practices to address the new challenges.
Rights, complexity, and change
The reasons for conservation have expanded steadily from its ancestral roots in food security to encompass recreation, esthetics, education, science, welfare, existence rights, wilderness, biodiversity, ecological services, and other values. Outwardly, it might seem that the more reasons to conserve, the better. In reality, pluralism is itself a threat, precisely because it is linked to rights. Rights weaken the central authority currently driving the conservation movement. The strength of central authority is that, with minimum negotiation, it cuts through the messy world of competing interests in the name of public good. On the downside, self-interests blossom when government enforcement and arbitration wither, feeding factionalism and confrontation.
Rights and justice are particularly sore points in Africa when it comes to natural resources. In response to the 1960s environmental movement that brought home the concept of the fragility of our planet, governments in Africa instituted tighter surveillance and control of resources. But all too often they used the name of environmentalism to acquire control and exploit national resources. Greed and corruption hastened resource depletion and deepened poverty, raising the anti-conservation tempo.
The rising clamor for democracy in Africa, leading to newfound freedoms, poses another threat to current conservation efforts by airing indigenous views of nature that had been ignored, disparaged, or suppressed by colonial and independent governments alike. In general, most non-Western cultures see nature and humanity holistically rather than as separate entities, and in utilitarian rather than sentimental terms. It was, for example, these divergent views and the growing non-Western voices at international conventions that saw the 1989 global ban on ivory sales partially reversed in 1997 in favor of sustainable use.
The real danger of ignoring the root causes of resistance to conservation, whether in the mind or through the pocket, lies in what I call the "transitional vortex." By this I mean the social destabilization caused when traditional values, access rules, and social sanctions are forgotten or disregarded; central authority and capacity wane; and new ideologies, institutions, and practices have yet to replace them and win public support.
Science, too, has a direct bearing on conservation philosophy, policy, and practice. Two examples make the point. First, island biogeography has in recent decades demonstrated the importance of area to species diversity. Consequently, parks, once considered an adequate measure to save species, are now seen as insufficient to forestall the extinctions caused by habitat fragmentation. Second, by the 1980s, the equilibrium theories of populations and ecosystems on which modern conservation was founded gave way to nonequilibrium models rooted in chaos theory and nonlinear dynamics. The shift from stability and predictability to flux and uncertainty has profound implications. It means, for example, that maximum sustainable yields of fish stocks cannot be readily calculated. The large degree of uncertainty due to stochastic events, such as climate and complex interactions between predator and prey, calls for conservative catch limits as a hedge against overharvesting and for variable rather than fixed annual quotas as a way to reflect fluctuating conditions.
The upshot of such changing views in science is that ecologists are struggling to come to grips with the realization that ecosystems and habitats are both inherently unpredictable and increasingly dominated by human activity. To make matters more complicated, species are likely to shift individually in response to climate change, rather than migrate as tightly knit associations. This means that the 5 percent of land currently set aside for protection is no longer enough to preserve biodiversity. Indeed, some ecologists wonder whether anything less than habitats connected across entire continents will do. Such complexity and uncertainty are shifting the emphasis from conservation prescriptions based on deterministic models to experimentation, monitoring, and adaptive management aimed at multiple benefits.
Finally, the Western perception of nature is itself seen by anthropologists as a social and changeable construct. Conservationists take umbrage at such insinuations, but Yellowstone proves that, if anything, our views are more fickle than those of the !Kung hunter-gatherers of the Kalahari or the cattle-keeping Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania. Over the past century, the predominant views of this venerable park have changed from national monument, to vignette of precolonial America, to wildlife refuge, and, recently, to a biodiversity center within a larger ecosystem.
Ironically, this shift in scientific paradigm from reductionism, predictability, and the separation of humanity and nature to a holistic and dynamic view resonates more with traditional cosmologies than with the scientific theories on which the modern conservation movement was founded. This augers well for pluralist and local solutions.
Pluralism and decentralization
Although still serviceable, conservation ideology, policy, and practice must either adapt to new knowledge and circumstances or wither. Fortunately, there are a few examples that not only respond to the realities of democracy, pluralism, and weakening central government, but actually grow out of them. These examples serve to illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of devolved conservation and point up ideas for a policy framework that unifies action within larger, longer-term societal goals.
Starting in the late 1960s, I was instrumental in brokering a deal between the Kenya Wildlife Department and Maasai pastoralists that allowed migrant animals from Amboseli National Park to use the Maasai land in return for a grazing fee. Facing land loss, an ailing livestock economy, and disappearing culture, the Maasai saw tourist concessions, employment, and social services emanating from the park as a timely opportunity to diversify their economy and offset hard times. Soon after the scheme began in 1977, the Maasai, who had steadfastly resisted the creation of a national park and had speared the black rhino to near extinction in protest, stated that wildlife had become their "second cattle" once again.
The outcome of the new agreement was dramatic. Poachers had cut Amboseli's elephant population from 1,000 in 1970 to fewer than 500 in 1977, mirroring the impact of the ivory trade on herds throughout Kenya and most of Africa. Once the Amboseli agreement went into effect, protection by the Maasai curbed poaching and saw the herd fully recover by 1998. In contrast, numbers continued to plunge in adjacent Tsavo National Park--a mere 50 miles away--from 44,000 elephants in 1970 to 6,000 in 1989, when the ivory ban went into effect.
Today, Amboseli National Park--along with the Amboseli ecosystem, some 10 times larger than the park itself--remains open to migrating wildlife. Among other successes, zebra numbers increased from 4,000 in 1977 to more than 12,000 in 1998, and wildebeest from 6,000 to 13,000 over the same period. Tourism, once confined to the park, has spread to adjacent Maasai ranches.
If Amboseli showed the potential for engaging communities in conservation, it also showed the weaknesses inherent in local participation. Despite enabling policy and legislation introduced in the mid-1970s, the community was not then self-organizing or skilled enough to build on the initiatives. Progress depended too heavily on outside conservation organizations and financial backing. The Maasai lacked the institutions and the modern business skills that went beyond their diffuse mode of governance. Also, the difficulties of achieving broad participation and understanding in a diffuse and mobile population limited how deeply conservation was adopted at the household level. Despite these shortcomings, however, the involvement of the Maasai led to the implementation of conservation practices that far surpassed the Wildlife Department's ability to conserve wildlife.
In 1989, the Kenyan government, recognizing the need for a stronger national agency, created the semiautonomous Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to replace the Wildlife Department. With full control over its own revenues and run along less bureaucratic lines, KWS quickly gained backing from donor groups and nongovernment organizations (NGOs). Emphasis was focused on building local capacity and self-organizing associations. In Amboseli, a newly formed landowner's wildlife association, emboldened by multiparty democracy and the emergence of individual rights, retained its own scouts trained by KWS to monitor elephants and other species. By 1997, the association had set aside three wildlife sanctuaries of its own, encouraged by KWS's "parks beyond parks" initiative.
Indeed, such locally based conservation efforts have become widespread around the world over the past two decades. Zimbabwe's Campfire Program covers extensive tracts of community land outside parks and largely accounts for the steady increase in the country's elephant population. In the United States, a group called the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, modeled on the Amboseli approach, is trying to win space for wildlife by forging a conservation alliance aimed at balancing biodiversity, forestry, mining, recreation, and other interests in a highly fragmented landscape. The coalition's goal is to better integrate the 2.2-million-acre park with the surrounding 13-million-acre ecosystem. If the coalition is successful in winning back migration access between the park and the ecosystem, the bison, elk, grizzly, and the recently reintroduced gray wolf will increase in numbers and improve their survival prospects over those of populations confined to the park.
Minimally, such new local initiatives can help buffer protected areas from ecological isolation, thus serving as a way to shore up their deficiencies by adding usable habitat for wildlife. But the real potential of local conservation efforts is far greater. If fostered, local action can open up much of the vast rural landscape and insert conservation into development plans. Of course, this implies more altered, less pristine wildlands, but for animals and plants, coexistence offers an evolutionarily better bet by far than does confinement in tiny fragmented parks.
A final example shows the potential far removed from parks. In a large area straddling the Arizona-New Mexico border, ranchers have joined together as the Malpai Borderlands Group in an effort to reverse a century of environmental degradation. The threats they face are familiar to the Maasai half way around the world: land subdivision, shrinking livestock economy, and loss of culture. The group's stated objective: "To restore and maintain the natural processes that create and protect a healthy, unfragmented landscape to support a diverse, flourishing community of humans, plant, and animal life." To this end, the ranchers have linked up with the Animus Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, university scientists, and government agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service, to establish grass banks and conservation easements aimed at restoring the land and curbing subdivision. On the commercial front, plans are under way to sell "conservation beef" at premium prices by featuring the ranchers' use of ecologically sound land practices.
In 1992, the Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation sponsored an international meeting, held at Airlie House in Virginia, to review and promote community-based conservation. The meeting brought together 70 participants, including donors and representatives of local communities, government agencies, NGOs, and specialized disciplines. As participants examined case study after case study, it became apparent that the conditions enabling local participation came down to democracy, rights, justice, trust, equity, opportunity, incentives, skills, and new forms of institutions--a lexicon that now has grown familiar among international conservation bodies and donor agencies. Interestingly, the communities represented at Airlie House didn't abandon government. What they called for was better governance to facilitate such initiatives and to provide the larger checks and balances not achievable locally.
As a conservation researcher and manager, I believe that the fundamental lesson that has emerged is that the modern conservation movement is faltering not because it is off track but because its ideology and practice rest on knowledge, prescriptions, and expectations that communities in conservation "target zones" either don't understand, don't agree with, or don't have the skills or latitude to do anything about. The process rather than the goal is flawed. Past practices have been too rooted in simplistic prescriptions to be widely accepted. Furthermore, in bypassing the political process governing other concerns of society, command-and-control conservation has placed itself at odds with the very communities it ultimately depends on for success.
The foundations of new policy must be based on a deeper scientific understanding of complex interacting processes and on more effective principles for conservation in human-dominated ecosystems. Public education will be required to ensure that large-scale and long-term systems interactions and change--as well as ultimate global limits--are widely appreciated and understood. The enormous uncertainties in our understanding of ecological and geophysical processes call for wide safety margins in assessments of the tolerance of populations, ecosystems, and planetary properties, as well as for the development of techniques that take into account the full environmental costs of development. This particularly applies in the case of biodiversity, a nonrenewable resource. A Maasai saying, "He who has traveled far, sees far," speaks to wisdom we cannot acquire from sectional thinking and simplistic models.
To create a better atmosphere for conservation, policy must be founded on basic universal rights and must come to grips with the reality of pluralistic values, cultural diversity, and conflicting interests. Policy also must address the mistrust, inequity in costs and benefits, and asymmetry in knowledge and power that mitigates against poor and marginalized communities in rural areas. Finally, conservation must encourage environmental and resource capacity and responsibility in institutional and social systems that are self-organizing and self-reinforcing.
A number of governments, donor groups, and conservation bodies are taking their cue from successful communities and reshaping policies and practices to achieve broad participation. The distinction between directing and responding is narrowing as dialogue, negotiation, and collaboration replace command-and-control methods. In the United States, the high transaction costs of pollution regulation and enforcement associated with wildlife conservation are bringing adversaries into new collaborative arrangements. An array of new incentives, including conservation trust funds, easements, and market incentives, can only broaden the scope for more efficient conservation partnerships.
I want to stress that we should not throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. The modern conservation movement is not so much unserviceable as insufficient. Many principles for better policies already are recognized, whereas others are emerging and evolving into a diverse and adaptive conservation creed. For example, the World Conservation Union's Strategy on Conservation for Sustainable Development, the World Commission on Environment and Development, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the lessons from Airlie House all point to common ground. The common goals and principles include large-scale, long-term maintenance of ecological processes; broad public participation; clear and equitable rights and responsibilities for resource use; environmental impact assessment; adequate safety margins to ensure sustainability; and adaptive management strategies based on continuous monitoring.
In moving forward, then, success will depend on creating a demand-pull rather than a command-drive. It will mean shifting the locus of discussion, decision, capability, and action from the national and international levels to the local level in a way that allows flexibility and experimentation to match culture and circumstance. Although there is no rigid formula for success, several factors can help get the process going:
- Participation and collaborative partnerships. Involvement of the ultimate traditional or legal landowners, communities, or lessees is the starting point of engagement. Communication with other interest groups, such as government agencies, NGOs, and businesses, aims at building trust, negotiating interests, and allocating roles, rights, and responsibilities. This often entails lengthy effort devoted to agreeing on procedures, breaking down asymmetries in knowledge, developing an operational language, and perhaps calling on new independently gathered information or turning to outside facilitation and arbitration.
- Scale-relevance. Linkages are needed among land authorities and other bodies to address the scale of resources or biodiversity. This calls for spatial connections between landowners as well as institutional linkages with national agencies and conservation bodies.
- Local self-organizing and self-regulating institutions. These institutions should have delegated roles and responsibilities based on codes, regulations, internal enforcement, and accountability.
- Multiple goals, integration, and adaptive management. All parties should work together to determine how conservation goals and interests can be incorporated into other development objectives and, if necessary, to create the incentives to do so.
Creating a demand-pull locally means opening up a cycle of exchange among conservation stakeholders into which relevant and timely information, expertise, and management can be drawn. It is this cycle of exchange that best distinguishes the process from the "delivered" science, policy, legislation, and plans of past conservation practice.
Integrating conservation initiatives
Although the involvement of local institutions is critical, the role of other institutions is no less important. National NGOs play a pivotal part as watchdogs over government and resource users. Together with international NGOs and foundations, they can help develop conservation principles, priorities, and strategies, as well as lobby for their implementation and raise seed funds. Moreover, together with experienced facilitators from the corporate world, they have a new and central role in helping develop participatory approaches and the skills and institutional capacity needed to advance local initiatives. Increasingly, businesses and universities should help develop and deliver techniques, technology, and marketing strategies for sustainable use, forming interacting institutions, as in Malpai. In an interesting twist, the Airlie House meeting declared the death of "donors" and the birth of "resource brokers." That perhaps better defines the constructive role that aid agencies can play in creating demand-pull and public accountability.
To an extent, defining roles for institutions itself risks perpetuating the stereotyped roles of donor, recipient, watchdog, and so on. What we should be encouraging is multiple pathways and feedback linkages for the exchange of knowledge, values, and skills among individuals and reciprocating groups, as well as the formation of flexible institutions that facilitate the process.
Finally, as the Airlie House participants recognized, governments are central to the process. Indeed, from the foregoing tenets, principles, and processes, the role government is called upon to play in aligning those efforts with the broader, long-term societal goals is crucial. Despite the difficulties, a number of governments have made a start. An example from Kenya shows how the making of a policy itself identifies the importance of government in starting the political process that feeds the cycle of exchange.
In 1996, I had the opportunity as director of the Kenya Wildlife Service to help review and revise the country's 20-year-old wildlife policy. The starting point was public engagement with all stakeholders to create a dialogue on the wildlife issues. KWS commissioned an independent five-person review group to gather opinions and recommendations from a cross-section of society on how to minimize the conflicting interests between people and wildlife. The debates and findings were covered widely in the media. In addition, a number of technical reviews on biodiversity, land use, tourism, and legal instruments were funded by donors and partly directed by NGOs. Each technical review had public input. KWS established a coordinating group to draw up the policy recommendations and, again, to present them for public discussion.
The policy framework specifically took into account the social and political trends in Kenya, the national development aspirations, and the multiple jurisdictions over land. Ultimately, the policy recognized the need to thoroughly restructure KWS in line with a new biodiversity mission. Rather than trying to do everything everywhere, KWS's principal functions were to create partnerships for conservation; oversee the transfer of rights linked to capacity and responsibilities; provide a unifying framework for biodiversity conservation; and take ultimate responsibility for oversight, arbitration, monitoring, and enforcement.
Among the new policy's specifics, a compromise was struck between state and individual land ownership, aimed at minimizing common property ownership problems and the fragmentation of land due to fencing when wildlife is privately owned like livestock. The aim was to create an enabling atmosphere for transferring rights progressively to landowning authorities. This entailed mobilizing landowner associations at the scale of ecosystems, giving them legal standing, creating awareness of the conservation opportunities, and, finally, linking rights to responsibilities. The policy also dealt with the weaknesses of traditional rural communities by encouraging partnerships with NGOs and private-sector groups. The aim was to build the planning and management capacity to undertake conservation enterprises integrated with other forms of land use.
Once the restructuring and mobilization were well under way, KWS called on key partners to define a Minimum Conservation Area (MCA). The MCA included parks, reserves, and nonprotected regions constituting a national framework for conserving biodiversity in the long term, regardless of jurisdiction. The MCA (which is to be progressively refined by the same process as better technical data become available) also set priorities for action by KWS, donors, and NGOs. In collaboration with the adjoining states of Uganda and Tanzania, steps were taken to establish a regional MCA linking conservation strategies in all three states under the East African Cooperation.
Unfortunately, there have been setbacks. Recent political events in Kenya have resulted in two changes in the KWS directorship in less than a year, and the nation's tourist industry collapsed in 1997, cutting KWS's revenues in half. As a result, the organization's ability and willingness to conserve wildlife countrywide has shrunk. This experience provides some important lessons for governments generally as the role of wildlife agencies contracts in the face of growing environmental problems, budgetary limitations, and stronger civil society. The role of government is nonetheless critical in creating an arena for the formulation of larger conservation goals and plans within each country and internationally. No less important is the need for policy to create the process of participation from the outset, rather than to treat participation as a product of governmental deliberation and legislation.
There are early indications that creating such a process has developed its own momentum in Kenya, with landowners, NGOs, and donor groups working collaboratively on programs and funding. Biodiversity trust funds, conservation enterprise funds, and ecotourism funds in excess of $50 million to promote local initiatives have been established. A newly formed National Landowners Wildlife Forum and NGOs have played a central role in these developments. There also are early signs of success in terms of biodiversity conservation. By 1998, the area slated for local sanctuaries by landowners exceeded 1,000 square miles, an area far larger than the total set aside as national parks in the past 40 years. In January 1998, an independent study commissioned by KWS showed that, on balance, populations of wildlife on lands involving community-based conservation were stable or increasing, whereas populations elsewhere were in decline.
The message, then, is that throughout all societies, we will need to adopt flexible and adaptive conservation strategies that supersede top-down practices and a unitary environmental ethic. Environmental ethics should instead flow from and reinforce agreements based on an open and accountable democratic process. Ideology, principles, policy, legislation, and action will emerge out of this process and be sanctioned by cultural expectations and norms, rather than be imposed and flounder because of resistance, indifference, and noncompliance.
D. B. Botkin, Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the Twenty-first Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.
B. Furze, T. De Lacy, and J. Birckhead, Culture, Conservation and Biodiversity. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996.
J. C. Scott, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1998.
E. P. Weber, Pluralism by the Rules: Conflict and Cooperation in Environmental Regulation. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1998.
D. Western, R. M. Wright, and S. C. Strum (eds.), Natural Connections: Perspectives in Community-Based Conservation. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1994.
The World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.
David Western, formerly the director of the Kenya Wildlife Service, is a conservationist with the Wildlife Conservation Society and chairman of the African Conservation Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. He is the author of In the Dust of Kilimanjaro (Island Press, 1997).