July 21, 2007

Life without tough choices

An article in the latest issue of Ecology and Society reports on the ideas that the Punan of Indonesia have about city life.
Many families consider going back to their ancestral land of the Tubu as a viable option. There, wild boar is plentiful, rivers have an abundance of fish, eaglewood is closer, and land for swiddens is available without major constraints. Furthermore, the forest is still rich in valuable timber that might attract loggers and thus provide income for the community. When asked about the numerous drawbacks (isolation, high price of goods, distance to market, lack of services, etc.), the families argue that moving back upstream does not imply giving up the positive aspects of development. On the contrary, they consider that it is the duty of the government to make such services available even in the remotest settlements.
American and European farmers have got exactly that, so the Punan should not lose hope.

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