By: Saori Ogura The indigenous Lepcha people have lived in Sikkim, a world biodiversity-hotspot, for more than eight centuries. Their traditional agricultural practices, hunting and gathering, enabled them to be self-sustaining in the biodiverse forest. Cultivated agriculture began around 1900 with the introduction of wet rice and cardamom. In the 1970s, commercial cardamom got expanded. In 2000, cardamom production collapsed due to disease. My research involves case studies at three scales on land use changes in the Lepcha territory following the expansion of cardamom. The first is a coarse grained GIS study of land use change for the village from 1988 to 2102. The other two are fine-grained key informant interview studies—one on land use change, and the second on the persistence of traditional food crops. I found decline in crop diversity in the area devoted to the monocultural cardamom cash crop system, which regionally resulted in a forest cover increase after the crash of the cardamom, and the persistence of traditional food crops only in the most remote villages.
El Salvador is one of the most densely populated countries in the Western Hemisphere. It exhibits deforestation rates comparable to those of countries like Haiti. As with much of Latin America, historical land use patterns and ownership have favored large-scale, singular landholdings, for which regulations or management regimes were nearly nonexistent. Today, authorities are attempting to reform and implement a functioning environmental permitting system, even as new investments in sensitive coastal areas will substantially increase over the next five years. The discussion will outline the challenges facing countries like El Salvador with evolving institutions and rule of law concerns. It will consider the role civil society can play in forging real development compliance–no matter the country—and will highlight the work of a visionary Salvadoran community-based organization, La Coordinadora del Bajo Lempa, whose vision and practice of rural development stand in dramatic contrast to conventional ”know-how.”