Responsibility not to export injustice : LETTERS

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Indy Lifestyle Online
From Mr Marcus Colchester Sir: For an environmental journalist, Richard D. North makes some surprisingly technocratic judgements about rainforest destruction and shows an astonishing faith in "trickle down" theory ("Less forest but less poverty, too", 12January).

Deforestation in Third World countries should be accepted in the national interest, he argues, if we can be assured that profits from mining will be well spent, as the mining will "fuel the very necessary industrialisation". Reassured on the slenderest grounds that the Malagasy government will look after the people who will bear the brunt of disruption, he asks grandly "how much forest does Madagascar need?" He is keen to hear the opinion of "liberal and thoughtful Malagasy civil servants".

But what of the opinion of the local communities? How much forest do they need? Can they afford to lose only 60 miles of coastline? How assured are they that they will not be asked to pay the costs of "development"? It is exactly to answer these questions that Andrew Lees took the trouble to visit the area and Mr North might have done better to await his findings.

Is it "green colonialism" to seek to support local communities against the impositions of northern industries? I think not; rather we have a responsibility to ensure that we do not export social injustice.

Yours faithfully, Marcus Colchester Forest Peoples Programme World Rainforest Movement Chadlington, Oxfordshire