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1 February 2004 Reviews of Web Sites, CD ROMs, Books

Web Sites on Hazards and Resilience

Given the special environmental conditions in mountain areas, mountain-related web sites inevitably take up the topic of hazards as one of several typical mountain issues. But it is difficult to find mountain web sites with a main focus on the theme of hazards and resilience. The following selection covers several aspects that are relevant to the combined theme of this issue of MRD: key UN sites on international disaster reduction efforts; toolkits and action-oriented sites that include the socioeconomic dimension; educational sites; and sites focusing on the use of GIS for risk analysis and hazard management—a classical theme in mountain research.

International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR)

 www.unisdr.org

An outcome of the UN International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction in 1999, the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) “aims at building disaster-resilient communities by promoting increased awareness of the importance of disaster reduction as an integral component of sustainable development, with the goal of reducing human, social, economic and environmental losses due to natural hazards and related technological and environmental disasters.” The ISDR web site is a highly recommended source of information on international policy-related aspects concerned with hazards and resilience. Apart from offering key international documents and information on the institutional setup of the ISDR, it features a very useful library, list of links, and overviews of specific themes (climate change, early warning, gender, sustainable development).

“Disaster Reduction for Sustainable Mountain Development”

 www.unisdr.org/eng/public_aware/world_camp/2002/pdf/Mountain%20Booklet%202002%20eng.pdf

Produced by the ISDR for the International Year of Mountains (IYM2002), this 16-page booklet is a useful introductory piece.

“Living with Risk: A Global Review of Disaster Reduction Initiatives”

 www.unisdr.org/eng/about_isdr/bd-lwr-eng.htm

Draft version of an ISDR report that will be available for purchase in 2004 (see also  www.unisdr.org/eng/about_isdr/basic_docs/LwR2003/lwr-03-table-contents-eng.htm, which offers extracts of the revised version). The report discusses current disaster trends, assesses policies aimed at mitigating the impact of disasters, and offers examples of successful initiatives. It also recommends that risk reduction be integrated into sustainable development at all levels—global, national and local.

“Living with Natural Hazards, Adapting Land Use to Risks”

 www.umwelt-schweiz.ch/imperia/md/content/buwalcontent/umweltbericht2002/e/15.pdf

Produced by the Swiss Ministry of Environmental Affairs (BUWAL) in 2002, this brochure focuses on prevention and preparedness, mainly in mountain areas. It offers examples of concrete measures resulting from a long history of lessons learned “the hard way,” and covers the following topics: avalanches, floods, land use planning and hazard maps, insurance issues, etc.

Provention Consortium

 www.proventionconsortium.org/index.htm

Web site of the Provention Consortium (World Bank Group), the mission of which is “to help developing countries build sustainable and successful economies and to reduce the human suffering that too often results from natural and technological catastrophe.” The Resource section offers interesting—though not mountain-specific—material, amongst which is a Toolkit, the Handbook for Estimating the Socioeconomic and Environmental Effects of Disasters, produced by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean in 2003.

LARED: Latin American Network of Social Studies in Disaster Prevention

 www.desenredando.org/index.html

This interesting web site focuses mainly on the social aspects of disaster prevention and is conceived as a networking and information exchange platform. It is in Spanish.

African Centre for Disaster Studies (ACDS)

acds.co.za

The ACDS was established in January 2002 at the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education within the School for Social and Government Studies. The explicit aim of the ACDS is to address the need for world-class training, education and research in disaster-related activities within Southern Africa and the wider African context. The ACDS offers virtual campus courses in disaster reduction.

Danger in the Mountains

 www.mountain.org/education/subexplore/explore04.cfm

This web page presents a chapter in Learning about Mountains, an online guide to resources for teachers and kids produced by The Mountain Institute (TMI). The guide offers easily understandable, informative basic teaching material for 32 mountain ranges around the world, in 16 languages.

The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Portal

 www.gisdevelopment.net

This portal offers online access to recent GIS research. The following studies focus on risk analysis and hazard management:

Has the Kullu district experienced an increase in natural hazard activity over the past 27 years? A case study in risk and land use/cover change, 2001 ( www.gisdevelopment.net/application/nrm/mountain/mount0003.htm).

Mitigation and preparedness for extreme events in mountainous areas, 2001 ( www.gisdevelopment.net/application/nrm/mountain/mount0004.htm).

GIS approach for disaster management through awareness. An over-view, 2002 ( www.gisdevelopment.net/application/natural_hazards/overview/nho0012.htm).

Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Systems for natural disaster management, 2002 ( www.gisdevelopment.net/application/natural_hazards/overview/nho0011.htm).

Susanne Wymann von Dach and Fani Kakridi Enz

Centre for Development and Environment, University of Berne, Steigerhubelstrasse 3, 3008 Berne, Switzerland. cde_info@giub.unibe.ch

Books

Die Alpen. Geschichte und Zukunft einer europäischen Kulturlandschaft

By Werner Bätzing. Munich: C. H. Beck, 2003. 448 pp. €34.90. ISBN 3-406-50185-0.

This is the third, substantially revised edition of a book published by the same publisher in 1991, the first version of which appeared in 1984. The author's enormous experience, based on 25 years of research on the European Alps, is evident throughout the book. Although he sticks to his proven method of analyzing current conditions and exploring potentials for the future on the basis of historical development, he does this in an even more sound and comprehensive manner than in the 1991 edition. Agricultural society is portrayed here in much more dynamic terms, and Bätzing's description of current conditions is considerably broader and deeper. Most importantly, this book is the first successful attempt to quantify structural change in the European Alps.

In his introduction, the author calls attention to the problems of establishing normative values and points out that each stakeholder group participating in the debate on the Alps presents its particular portrayal of the region as the correct one. While the first chapter deals with the age of agriculture, Chapter 2 presents the decline of the traditional Alpine world and describes new forms of resource use developed since the 19th century. Bätzing examines industry, tourism, the significance of the Alps as a water tower for Europe, and the problems of traffic and environmental conservation in the Alps.

Following this chronological account, Chapter 3 features a comprehensive assessment of the major changes in the Alpine region in the 19th and 20th centuries. In order to grasp the integrated dimensions of structural change, the author analyzes demographic development at the commune level. He distinguishes three periods: the age of industrialization (1871–1951), a transition period (1951–1981), and the age of the service economy (1981–2000), offering cartographic evidence of demographic change in Alpine communes for each period. In addition, 6123 Alpine communes are categorized in a cluster analysis in accordance with their demographic development from 1871 to 2000, and also shown on a map. Bätzing thus gives a precise and detailed picture of structural change in the Alps that can be quantitatively verified and evaluated.

Chapter 4 focuses on the future of the Alpine region. A critical discussion of the term “sustainability” is followed by a presentation of the principle of “equitable dual use” (ausgewogene Doppelnutzung), a term Bätzing uses to describe the reconstitution of the Alpine region as a relatively independent and multifunctional living space and economic area. For the author, support for this form of sustainable development is provided by the Alpine Convention, as it offers a common policy platform for the Alpine region and as such may even play a pioneering role in Europe.

Bätzing succeeds in portraying the great diversity of problems faced by the Alpine region without getting lost in details and thus losing sight of essentials. The book is well and understandably written: it does not require previous special knowledge, while its overall structure and chapter arrangement make for easy reading. Readers interested in more detailed information will turn to the abundant notes (nearly 400), which include references to the current debate among specialists, along with a comprehensive bibliography, lists of tables and maps, and a subject index in the annex. Most of the photographs, many of which are reproduced in color, were taken by the author himself. Special mention should also be made of the numerous figures and the 34 maps, all reproduced in excellent quality, 5 of them double-page illustrations in color. The layout is clear and simple. One possible criticism is the limited treatment of Alpine problems that have natural causes. Nonetheless, this book is clearly the most comprehensive and up-to-date general portrayal of the Alpine cultural landscape. It is bound to appeal to a wide range of readers, from the interested layman to the scientist.

Armin Rempfler Zielempgasse 11, 4600 Olten, Switzerland. armin.rempfler@freesurf.ch

Transboundary Protected Areas: The Viability of Regional Conservation Strategies

Edited by Uromi Manage Goodale, Marc J. Stern, Cheryl Margoluis, Ashley G. Lanfer, and Matthew Fladeland. New York, London, Oxford: The Hawthorn Press, 2003. US$ 49.95. xx + 271 pp. ISBN 1-56022-095-3.

Following a period when the focus of nature conservation was mainly on the involvement of local communities under the leitmotif of “community-based conservation,” initiated by the 1982 World Parks Congress in Bali, the current emphasis is more strongly on so-called regional conservation strategies, which address the ecological needs of organisms and communities in terms of their space requirements by increasing the geographic scale of conservation efforts and creating linkages between conservation areas. The latest initiative in this context is the promotion of Transboundary Conservation Areas (TBAs), which straddle boundaries—especially international borders but also other administrative or even cultural, ethnic and social boundaries—and require the cooperation of formerly unrelated institutional bodies in order to be properly managed. Some TBAs are referred to as “peace parks,” a term that connotes that cooperation for conservation across boundaries not only benefits nature but is also capable of improving political relations. TBAs became a major issue in the 1990s: the number of internationally adjoining protected area complexes rose from 136 in 1997 to 169 in 2001 (from the contribution by D.C. Zbicz).

The first major publication on this topic was Transboundary Protected Areas for Peace and Cooperation (Sandwith et al 2001), based on workshops organized by the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) of IUCN–The World Conservation Union. In the same year, the Yale chapter of the International Society of Tropical Foresters organized a conference on “Transboundary Protected Areas: The Viability of Regional Conservation Strategies.” Papers and the abstracts of posters presented at this conference have been published in the volume under review, and co-published simultaneously as the Journal of Sustainable Forestry Vol 17, No 1–2, 2003. One major objective of the conference was to explore whether lessons from community-based conservation can be applied to transboundary management—or, to put it more succinctly, whether the top-down approach required to establish transboundary protected areas in the first place allows scope for, or can be combined with, the bottom-up approach of community-based management.

The papers are divided into 3 sections: overview papers that deal with conceptual issues and transboundary protected area management on a global scale; site-specific papers, most from mountain areas, presenting case studies from USA/Canada, Southern Africa, Venezuela/Guyana, Eastern Africa, and Nepal; and poster abstracts. The volume is rounded off with a synthesis paper by the editors. The contributions are diverse in terms of style, authorship, and mode of documentation, ranging across a wide spectrum that includes theoretical reflections on conceptual issues by academics, a survey of public exposure and reception, and performance assessments by scientists, consultants, park managers and NGO representatives. A few papers (C.C. Chester, J.J. Fall) are based on ongoing research.

The thematic focus on the applicability of lessons from community-based conservation is indicated by the fact that 4 of the 11 papers are mainly concerned with problems of community-based conservation and deal with transboundary conservation management only in a peripheral or cursory manner. The keynote address by R. M. Ruiz, director of Eco Bolivia, a local NGO, which presents the case of Madidi National Park, created in 1995 largely on the initiative of Eco Bolivia, shows how the efforts of local communities for conservation have been hijacked by international NGOs and government agencies, essentially reversing a bottom-up initiative into top-down practice. J.P. Brosius and D. Russell, in a very scholarly and erudite paper, interpret the rise of regional approaches such as ecoregional planning and TBAs as indicating that the emphasis of conservation is no longer on community participation and again on the traditional goals of species and habitat protection. They argue for a social definition of conservation and maintain that community involvement and participation should remain central concerns. The paper goes on to identify causes of the poor quality of social science research for conservation—thereby providing some welcome criticism of the proliferation of rapid assessment methods—and to suggest tools from anthropology that may help to serve as a remedy.

M.P. Wells explores, on the basis of experiences from protected area management projects in Africa and Asia, why Integrated Conservation and Development Projects (ICDPs), which have been implemented to reconcile the resource needs of local communities with the management of protected areas, have not been successful in many cases, and tries to identify the major constraints. Traditional resource management in protected areas is a central issue of the paper by N.D. Kingsbury, which explores whether traditional shifting cultivation is compatible with management in Kanaima National Park in Venezuela and Iwokrama Centre in Guyana. The paper is a valuable contribution to the discussion on the sustainability of shifting cultivation and the quality of the resulting secondary forests, but does not really touch upon problems of transboundary management.

More to the point are the following contributions. D.C. Zbicz has carried out an international study on the actual extent and practice of transboundary cooperation for conservation. Her paper provides an inventory of transboundary conservation practices and a ranking of cooperative initiatives according to development phases ranging across 5 levels from “no cooperation” to “fully integrated cooperation.” According to her findings, most transboundary cooperation is still carried out at a most basic level, which does not go beyond the sharing of information. The paper by J.J. Fall is based on a survey of planning in 5 transboundary reserves of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme. It presents an admirable combination of theoretical and empirical perspective, starting out with a conceptual discussion of boundaries from a natural and social science perspective, which explores the historical change of the protected area boundary from “fortress wall” to “filter.” The second and more applied part of this paper highlights the importance of effective management bodies as a major prerequisite for successful transboundary planning. The papers by T. Sandwith on conservation and development in the Maloti-Drakensberg mountains of southern Africa and by H. Rainer et al on regional conservation in the Virunga-Bwindi region of eastern Africa are noteworthy as in-depth studies of the practice of developing collaborative mechanisms. K. Basnet provides an overview of the practice and potential of transboundary conservation in Nepal.

In their synthesis paper, the editors have made an admirable effort in tying together the various and divergent strands deriving from the individual contributions. The main lesson learned from the diversity of experiences and views is that a thorough understanding of the local context is crucial to the success of transboundary initiatives. This book is valuable not only as a contribution to the issue of transboundary conservation management, but also as a microcosm of the contending forces that influence conservation thinking and practice.

REFERENCE

  1. T. Sandwith, C. Shine, L. Hamilton, and D. Sheppard . editors. 2001. Transboundary Protected Areas for Peace and Cooperation. Gland (Switzerland) and Cambridge (UK): IUCN–The World Conservation Union. Google Scholar

  2. Schmidt-Vogt Dietrich Asian Institute of Technology, School of Environment, Resources and Development, PO Box 4, Klong Luang, Pathum Thani 12120, Thailand. schmidt@ait.ac.thGoogle Scholar

"Reviews of Web Sites, CD ROMs, Books," Mountain Research and Development 24(1), (1 February 2004). https://doi.org/10.1659/0276-4741(2004)024[0088:ROWSCR]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 February 2004
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