Harmony between man and land is represented by conservation. The propaganda on conservation has been going on for nearly a century. It still goes on at a snail’s pace. Progress convention oratory and letterhead devoutness consist the commitment and progress that has been promised for decades. The ideology that the population should obey the law, vote the right people, practice profitable conservation on ones land and the government will do the rest does not yield any fruits unless the leaders have conviction.
The call fails to differentiate between right and wrong, fails to call for sacrifice, does not dispense any responsibility and does not mean any alteration in the modern-day thinking of values. With respect to land use, the ideology only urges enlightened self-interest (Leopold n.p.).
When the Wisconsin’s top soil continuously slipped seaward, it was clear for all that the land was loosing its value ecologically; that the land pyramid had been interfered with, substitute for land and ecological conscience were lacking. This paper explores the ecological situation in the Dominican Republic to establish how human action affects the environment for better or for worse.
For the Dominican Republic, actions that were taken helped the country to preserve the environment by instituting several new measures. These actions have created a major difference between the Republic and Haiti, which is literally a desert of poverty although both countries were largely forested.
Case study from Collapse
The Dominican Republic borders Haiti on the Caribbean Island. The 120 mile long border that divides the two countries appears to have been literally cut with a knife due to the difference in environment between the two countries. The difference is brought about by the actions the countries’ leaders and citizens took or failed to take to preserve the environment.
Today, the Dominican Republic is covered by 28 percent of forest (Diamond 220). Even the richest farmlands between Santiago and Santo Domingo have thick woodlands. The Republic has been impacted by deforestation just like any other country around the world.
The existence of the forest is attributed to democracy presented by the 1978 presidential elections. This resulted in the defeat of the incumbent dictator. The country had previously been ruled by dictators who threatened the countries environment through deforestation. The country’s forests were gradually diminishing due to logging that benefitted the dictators personally.
One factor that helped the Republic to conserve its forests is that the governments in the early 1800 helped the population in the development of cash crops. This assistance helped the citizens to concentrate on agriculture on the land they were allocated as opposed to cutting down trees for charcoal. They were encouraged to help in developing an export economy and overseas trade (Diamond 349). This kept them away from destroying forests.
Although destruction of forest would later be forced on Dominicans by several factors including dictatorship, they initially maintained the most of the forest cover. However, in the 1860s and 1870s, there was increased exploitation of trees. This resulted in the extinction or depletion of some tree species. This rate was accelerated in the 19th century because forests were being cleared for cash crops particularly sugar plantations.
The demand for wood increase as urbanization rose and railroads required ties. In low-rainfall areas, damage of forests started soon after 1900 (Diamond 229). Trees were being cut down for fuel. Agricultural activities contaminated streams. All these activities contributed to the disruption of the land pyramid. The pyramid consists of complex tangles of chains that may appear disorderly (Leopold n.p.). The great organization of the structure is confirmed only by the solidity of the scheme.
Changes occur in the pyramid when one part is interfered with and the others are forced to adjust. Cutting down trees disrupts the land pyramid. Since the soil that the tree was growing on is affected, it has to adjust to release the energy it had. This often results to soil erosion. By polluting water, animals and plants that were supposed to have kept the energy in the pyramid circulating are excluded through death (Caldwell and Shrader-Frechette 167).
In 1934, Trujilo established a unit of forest guards to buttress forest protection, established the earliest national park, concealed the clearing of land for agriculture using fire and barred the cutting of trees.
These moves were motivated by personal economic considerations. An environmental scientist was hired by his regime in 1937 to survey the commercial logging potential. The president eventually allocated himself huge chunks of pine forests (Diamond 227).
Although the president had verbally and in writing committed to protecting the countries forests, the obligation he had allocated himself had no conscience. Having been a dictator for many years, he had no conscience for people and this was effectively transferred to land. The alteration he had brought about lacked assurances, fondness, loyalties and inner alteration in intellectual importance.
Citizens who used to depend on logging started burning down forests to clear land for agriculture. This illustrates the lack of good relationship between man and the environment. The individuals lacked the ecological conscience (Leopold n.p.).
The individuals were not willing to conserve the environment. Everybody was seeking immediate economic gain from land for themselves. The president had been requested by the citizens for alternative source of livelihood but he did not offer them anything. He lacked a substitute for land ethics (Lynton 332).
Consequently, the citizens invaded forest that were not highly regarded by the regime and cleared for agriculture. The citizens justified these actions by claiming economic validity of their actions. They argued that this was the only alternative they had else they would starve. According to Leopold, ecology should exist whether it has economic advantage or not.
The regime watched as the forests were being destroyed because the forest areas that were not banned for agriculture or logging were considered to have low value. The regions that contained pines trees were highly regarded by the regime. Trespassers into those areas would be prosecuted.
Lack of economic value is a character of the entire biotic community. If the citizens were ecological minded, they would have been proud custodians of the vast areas where logging and farming had not been prohibited. The importance of the areas that were initially considered unimportant was realized decades later when everything had been destroyed living the country arid (Lynton 332).
When Joaquin Balaguer was elected president, he recognized the urgency for conserving forested watersheds. He banned all commercial logging that had been initiated by his predecessor. When powerful rich families pulled back and started logging in remote areas away from public, he turned over the protection of forests to the armed forces. The president’s obligation was conscience-driven and he acted with passion and conviction (Diamond 235.).
Illegal loggers would be raided at night when logging and shot. The drastic actions to a large extent helped protect forest. A law was legislated stating that logging was a crime against national security. To some extent, land ethics came to play. Even though the loggers were forced to stop cutting down trees, the president on his part was practicing ethics towards land. He did not want anybody to interfere with the ecology especially through logging.
The country has a reserve system and faces rigorous indigenous movements. Non governmental organizations are staffed by Dominicans as opposed to being foisted by foreign countries. The higher level of education relative to Haiti also helps the citizens to comprehend the importance of environmental conservation. The Dominicans’ attitudes, institutions, self-defined identity, recent government leadership and history have helped protect the environment.
Humans are responsible for the destruction of the environmental. They destroy the ecology for economical gains. The Dominican Republic has had its share of destruction of its forests. The destruction interferes with nature balance resulting to disruption of the land pyramid.
The destruction of forests in the Republic was primarily facilitated by dictators for selfish gains. Poverty also contributes to the destruction of the ecosystem. It is possible to restore the balance in nature. For instance, in the Dominican Republic, actions that were taken helped the country to preserve the environment. Indeed, these actions have created a major difference between the Republic and Haiti, which is literally a desert of poverty although both countries were largely forested.
Diamond, Jared. Collapse: One Island, Two Peoples, Two Histories: The Dominican Republic and Haiti. New York: Penguin Group, 2005. 570. Print.
Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There. London: Oxford University Press, 1968. 226. Print.
Leopold, Aldo. “A Sand County Almanac: Land Ethic.” A Sand County Almanac: Land Ethic. 1948. Web. 29 Feb 2012.
Lynton, Caldwell and Kristin, Shrader-Frechette. Policy for Land: Law and Ethics. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 1993. Print.