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Linking political ecology with ecological economics in tree plantation conflicts in Cameroon and Ecuador


  • Gerber, Julien-François
  • Veuthey, Sandra
  • Martínez-Alier, Joan


Industrial tree plantations are rapidly expanding worldwide and notably causing a growing number of conflicts between companies and local populations. Such conflicts -- the focus of the article -- have been neglected by ecological economists although there is a proliferation of related reports by environmental non-governmental organizations. This paper uses empirical evidence to show how elements of political ecology and ecological economics can be combined for understanding the languages of valuation deployed in tree plantation conflicts in Southern countries. Combining qualitative fieldwork on a Cameroonian rubber plantation and an Ecuadorian eucalypt plantation with a methodological framework taken from the study of social metabolism, we find that both conflicts (although with different emphasis) arise because of land and biomass appropriation, ground clearing, pollution from agrochemicals, and water shortage and are expressed as conflicts on valuation. The metabolism of such tree plantations, through the exchanges of materials with the local environment, explains the bio-physical basis of such conflicts. In the Cameroon case, resistance is mainly sporadic and individual, while in Ecuador, a grassroots organization has been able to respond to rural demands in a structured way. Both patterns of resistance are found in other present-day resource extraction conflicts.

Suggested Citation

  • Gerber, Julien-François & Veuthey, Sandra & Martínez-Alier, Joan, 2009. "Linking political ecology with ecological economics in tree plantation conflicts in Cameroon and Ecuador," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(12), pages 2885-2889, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:68:y:2009:i:12:p:2885-2889

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    RePEc Biblio mentions

    As found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:
    1. > Schools of Economic Thought, Epistemology of Economics > Heterodox Approaches > Ecological Economics > Social Ecology and Social Metabolism


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    Cited by:

    1. Min, Shi & Huang, Jikun & Waibel, Hermann & Yang, Xueqing & Cadisch, Georg, 2019. "Rubber Boom, Land Use Change and the Implications for Carbon Balances in Xishuangbanna, Southwest China," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 57-67.
    2. Julia Szulecka, 2019. "Towards Sustainable Wood-Based Energy: Evaluation and Strategies for Mainstreaming Sustainability in the Sector," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 11(2), pages 1-21, January.
    3. Garmendia, Eneko & Urkidi, Leire & Arto, Iñaki & Barcena, Iñaki & Bermejo, Roberto & Hoyos, David & Lago, Rosa, 2016. "Tracing the impacts of a northern open economy on the global environment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 169-181.
    4. Bennett, Aoife & Ravikumar, Ashwin & Paltán, Homero, 2018. "The Political Ecology of Oil Palm Company-Community partnerships in the Peruvian Amazon: Deforestation consequences of the privatization of rural development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 29-41.
    5. Viteri-Salazar, Oswaldo & Toledo, Lucía, 2020. "The expansion of the agricultural frontier in the northern Amazon region of Ecuador, 2000–2011: Process, causes, and impact," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 99(C).
    6. Cariola, Lucía & De la Peña García, Antonio & Hilgert, Norma I., 2020. "Adaptive farm management in the context of the expansion of industrial tree plantations in northern Argentina," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 96(C).
    7. Akbulut, Bengi & Adaman, Fikret, 2020. "The Ecological Economics of Economic Democracy," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 176(C).
    8. Kosenius, Anna-Kaisa & Kniivilä, Matleena & Pitiot, Maja & Horne, Paula, 2019. "Location of forest plantations in Mozambique: Gains and losses in water, firewood and land availability," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 88(C).
    9. Vallejo, Maria Cristina, 2010. "Biophysical structure of the Ecuadorian economy, foreign trade, and policy implications," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 159-169, December.
    10. Busscher, Nienke & Parra, Constanza & Vanclay, Frank, 2018. "Land grabbing within a protected area: The experience of local communities with conservation and forestry activities in Los Esteros del Iberá, Argentina," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 572-582.
    11. Nataliia Chupryna, 2016. "Background And Substance Of Detection Of Ecological Conflicts In The Economy," Baltic Journal of Economic Studies, Publishing house "Baltija Publishing", vol. 2(2).
    12. Kate J. Neville, 2015. "The Contentious Political Economy of Biofuels," Global Environmental Politics, MIT Press, vol. 15(1), pages 21-40, February.
    13. Spangenberg, Joachim H. & Settele, Josef, 2016. "Value pluralism and economic valuation – defendable if well done," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 18(C), pages 100-109.


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