Forest Conservation and Sustainability in Indonesia: A Political Economy Study of International Governance Failure, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Forest Conservation and Sustainability in Indonesia

A Political Economy Study of International Governance Failure, 1st Edition

By Bernice Maxton-Lee


224 pages | 7 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780367173463
pub: 2020-04-15
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Despite carefully-constructed conservation interventions deforestation in Indonesia is not being stopped. This book identifies why large-scale international forest conservation has failed to reduce deforestation in Indonesia and considers why key stakeholders have not responded as expected to these conservation interventions.

A history of deforestation in Indonesia in the context of global political economy is included, and the author explores the relationship between international historical trade and economic realities and the failures of forest conservation and sustainability in Indonesia. It is shown how international trade and global economic and political ideologies have shaped deforestation considering the interests of and agendas behind major global forestry conservation and sustainability. Case study chapters are included on: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+); the Norway-Indonesia bilateral partnership; and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in Indonesia. The findings are pulled together providing an insight into the failures of global climate change policy and the ways in which the proposed theoretical model can be used to analyse other complex environmental problems.

The book will be a useful reference for students of environmental science and policy, political theory, international relations, development and economics. It will also be of interest to forestry professions and practitioners working in NGOs.


"This book by a committed environmentalist has tough messages for the Western conservation movement. In eight key findings, Bernice Maxton-Lee underlines blunt facts that activists in rich countries must face. Too many of the ideas advanced as solutions to the challenge of climate change are sideshows. Environmentalists in rich countries should blaming developing countries like Indonesia for global problems. The most important reforms need to start within the global North."Peter McCawley, Honorary Associate Professor, Indonesia Project, Arndt-Corden Dept of Economics, College of Asia and the Pacific, ANU, Canberra

"Social scientists will be failing humanity if they fail to dig deep into who "you" are in Greta Thunberg’s lion’s roar, and why they "dare". By deconstructing the deadly structural traps of the global economy and decoding the neoliberal framing, this book explains how climate change was used as a great opportunity for those in the position of power to further entrench and intensify the unjust relationship among the Global North, the Global South, and nature. It unravels the zealous participation - oftentimes with pride and conviction - of consequent climate-change victims in speeding up the destruction of nature under banners such as "sustainable development" and "conservation" while staying clear of meaningful and ground-shifting actions for climate mitigation. Taking a historical long view and backed by rich empirical evidence, the book offers insights critical to the dethronement of neoliberalism."Chien-Yi Lu, Associate Research Fellow, Institute of European and American Studies, Academia Sinica Taipei, Taiwan R.O.C.

"This remarkable book deconstructs the myth of responsible consumption of agricultural commodities and conveys the ultimate inconvenient truth: An ecologically sustainable economic growth is as impossible as the perpetuum mobile. The analysis is straightforward and outspoken. We urgently need much more of this kind of conservation literature, which is radical in the best sense of the word. Conservationists who think voluntary standard-setting certification through and down to the roots will eventually recognize that ‘it is designed to ensure the path of least resistance for capital to increase its own production‘. Current approaches to sustainability certification comfortably accompany the sleepwalking consumption society into disaster."Pierre L. Ibisch, Professor for Nature Conservation, Research professorship for "Ecosystem-based sustainable development", Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management, Faculty of Forest and Environment, Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, Germany

"Do you avoid palm oil in your biscuits? Sign petitions to protect orangutans? So do I - and this book is for us. Carefully referenced, it traces the tricks of neoliberal "common sense" that convince us to trust REDD schemes, palm oil certification, or imaginary "zero deforestation." For all who care about the burning forests, Maxton-Lee gives us the cold water treatment. The growth economy is the real villain. Its continued pressure to increase demand for goods and services is what is leading to ecological destruction. Individual gestures will not suffice."Kerryn Higgs, University Associate, University of Tasmania; Associate Member, Club of Rome

"Bernice Maxton-Lee presents an unvarnished analysis why conservation and sustainable development efforts have failed to protect Indonesia’s forests. Indonesia’s remaining tropical forests, which harbour some of the richest biodiversity in the world, are now also increasingly victims of climate change. Deforestation and carbon emissions continue rising, despite all assurances and international efforts. This important book is based on a critical political analysis that reveals the disastrous subordination to the Western neoliberal economic growth paradigm."Claude Martin, Former Director General of WWF International and author of "On the Edge – The State and Fate of the World’s Tropical Rainforests"

Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1 Conservation of Indonesia's forests in historical and political context CHAPTER 2 Formal and informal structures of Indonesian conservation CHAPTER 3 A REDD+ herring: Why clearer land tenure, transparency and governance will not make REDD+ work CHAPTER 4 Moratorium and One Map: The Norway-Indonesia Bilateral Partnership CHAPTER 5 Sustainability as market discipline and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)

About the Author

Bernice Maxton-Lee is a Research Associate at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. She recently completed her PhD in political economy and sustainable development at City University of Hong Kong.

About the Series

The Earthscan Forest Library

The Earthscan Forest Library

This series brings together a wide collection of volumes addressing diverse aspects of forests and forestry and draws on a range of disciplinary perspectives. Titles cover the full range of forest science and include the biology, ecology, biodiversity, restoration, management (including silviculture and timber production), geography and environment (including climate change), socio-economics, anthropology, policy, law and governance. The series aims to demonstrate the important role of forests in nature, peoples’ livelihoods and in contributing to broader sustainable development goals. It is aimed at undergraduate and postgraduate students, researchers, professionals, policy-makers and concerned members of civil society. Authors or editors of potential new titles should contact Hannah Ferguson, Editor ([email protected]).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
NATURE / Ecology
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Agriculture / Forestry