Talk by John Seed to the Synod of the United Church, Iriqila Village, Vella Lavella. Solomon Islands, August 1984
Friends, the object of my talk today is "What is Development?" Let us look first at how we used to think of development - multinational corporations come to this country and take the logs of the fish or the natural resources away. Is this development at all? Why do they come here, these companies? Do they care for the people here and for this place, for your future and that of your children? I maintain that the only reason that they are here is for profit, and they will do whatever you let them get away with doing to make maximum profit.
One example that you all know - Levers. Last year they turned over more than $10,000,000,000. Ten thousand million dollars! Hundreds of time the gross National Product of this whole country. Their head offices is in London and Amsterdam - how much logging did they do there? Did they work in the sun with coconuts there? What did the shareholders do for their lionshare of the development? (1)
And the logs, exported to Japan, the octopus. Did you know that in Japan the forests are sacred? They do not cut their own forests down, only other people’s - two thirds of Japan is covered in forests, the most of any industrialized country.
So, now they have developed these countries: England and Holland, native forests gone; America, high crime rate, drug addiction, no sense of community, every man for himself - and they wish to develop your country too. (2) These companies are logging and fishing in your country now, doing whatever they can get away with to make as big a profit as possible for their shareholders, not caring if they spoil you land, spoil your relationships with your children, spoil the future of your children.
There are many things that people should know before they allow their land to be logged: you must know about the soil, protect the topsoil. It takes a hundred years for a centimeter of topsoil to build up, but it can be lost in a few moments - the land is spoiled. When it washes into the creeks an rivers, the reefs and mangroves where the fish breed are spoiled by sediment, and there will be less fish for a long time to come.
Can the people of the Solomon Islands develop this country for themselves in a Christian way? (3) This means the way of justice, participation and sustainability. Justice was discussed by the Revered Robertson this morning - all the people should share in the benefits, not just a few. Participation, I take to mean democracy, that this country is ruled by the Solomon Island people, not by people from London or from Tokyo. Sustainability? Well, this is the most neglected and misunderstood of the three, and I would like to talk about this idea of sustainability at some length.
In order to encourage sustainable development, the United Nations has an Environment Programme, and this body, together with the International Union of the Conservation of Nature (IUCN - concerned scientists from around the whole world), has prepared a World Conservation Strategy. The object of this strategy is to conserve the world, and one of the ways of doing this is to make development sustainable. In the introduction to the World Conservation Strategy "sustainability" is defined as: "managing the use of living resources so they remain productive forever". That is, making sure that development today does not spoil the world for the future. Also in the World Conservation Strategy, it is stated that "sustainable utilisation is like spending the interest while keeping the capital".
Let’s say that you have $1,000 capital and an interest rate of 10%. If you spend $100/year, then the capital remains untouched, and in principle it will provide $100/year at 10% for forever. If you spend more than $100/year, while it is true that you are richer in the first years (say that you have $120 instead of $100 per year), but you are eating into the capital. Soon the capital is gone and then there is no more interest and you have nothing. For example, Levers logging on Gizo Kolombangara and North New Guinea destroyed in a few years the accumulated capital of thousands and millions of years. A few people get rich for a little while, but what about the children? Soon there is nothing, no canoe trees, no building materials and the customary way of life has been spoiled. (4)
Is the logging practiced by multinationals in the Solomon Islands sustainable? Certainly not! A report from the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Land, Energy and Natural Resources states that:
"The present rate of exploitation on average will see the last days of logging operations of the
natural forests by 1998. If re-planting followed logging effectively, it is expected that a
period of gap of about 11 years, at which there will be no logging operations, is unavoidable.
This means that for a period of 11 years, Solomon Islands will be without any timber
industry, and the country may have to import its timber requirements from other countries."
However, replanting does not effectively follow logging. What little replanting that is done, is all done on government land, whereas most logging takes place on customary land. The Central Bank pointed out that if all the royalties that the government received from logging in 1982 were spent on replanting, it would only pay to have one ninth of the area logged replanted.
The World Conservation Strategy points out other unsustainable development such as the world fish catch has started going down; though there are more people, there are less fish to eat; the forests are shrinking fast; the top soil is disappearing and the deserts are growing - they now cover 8 million square miles of planet earth.
This situation has become so desperate that Mustafa Tolba, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme warned in the World Conservation Strategy Introduction that if nations carry on as they are, they will "face by the turn of the century an environmental catastrophe as complete, as irreversible as any nuclear holocaust." By the turn of the century, 16 years from now, a situation as serious as nuclear war, brought on by unsustainable development.
This holocaust will largely be the result of the extinction of species. Do you know what a species is? It is one kind of plant or animal. For example, human beings are one species. For example, there are 163 species of land birds that breed in the Solomon Islands. Extinct means dies out, never more to be seen on earth, last one died. For example, a long time ago, the species of dinosaurs became extinct.
The total number of different species on the earth numbers about ten million. Fully half of these live in the rainforests (rainforests are the kind of forests that over most of the Solomon Islands), the kind that loggers want. For this reason, the rainforests have been called "the womb of life". The World Conservation Strategy says that of these ten million species created by God "20% may be extinct by the turn of the century. In 50 years, half may be gone."
These extinctions would permanently impoverish the planet and our descendants. It is for this reason that Dr Lee Talbot, Director-General of the IUCN announced that "the tropical forests are the world’s number one conservation priority". If these species disappear, then the future of humans is also placed in jeopardy. The scientific proof for this statement is to be found in many publications. Some of these (such as World Scientists Write to Premier Wren about Rainforests) are available for you to look at after this talk.
In October 1982, the Duke of Edinburgh replied to my letter about the rainforests (I wrote to him as he is a conservationist also) with a copy of a document from IUCN and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) about the tropical rainforest. Copies of this are also available after the talk (or from the Rainforest Information Centre). In this document, the Director-General of WWF, Charles de Haes noted that
"saving the tropical forests is not a luxury, but a priority for world action. Unfortunately,
this problem remains a well-hidden time-bomb generally known only to a scientific elite.
Mobilising public opinion is our highest single priority in this campaign. Unless the public
is made aware of the seriousness of this situation and brings pressure to bear on governments
and industry, there may be serious and irreversible consequences. These could include
economic disruption, political instability, famine, drought and disruption of our basic life
This is why I ask for your help in an education effort to alert people of this country so that pressure may indeed be brought to bear on governments and industry.
In this same report, the Deputy Executive Dirtier of the United Nations Environment Programme said:
"Loss of tropical forests at the present rate will undermine future economic development and
threaten social and political stability in many countries."
Apart from the fact that we are going to need these species in the future for the human race to survive, there is also a religious, moral reason to prevent their extinction. For the first five days of creation, God created these species and all of the bounties of Nature. On the sixth day, He created man and entrusted him with the sacred duty to be steward for these species. Surely, to destroy them is to heap contempt upon their Creator and fail in our duty towards Him, who is Father towards all of these species as well as our Father. As an American poet once pointed out - in our democracies, we forgot to give the plants and the animals a vote. Which Members of Parliament recognise these creatures in their constituency?
The scientific evidence of the importance of the rainforests became clear to us during the fight to save the Australian rainforests. In my own State of New South Wales, we fought for many years to protect the rainforests. When all other means failed to secure their protection, our conscience required that we practise non-violent civil disobedience as developed by the famous Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi. We lay down in front of the bulldozers so they would have to run over us or arrest us to destroy the trees. Hundreds of people were arrested, but finally we managed to alert the people of NSW and they agreed to save the rainforests. Last year six new National Parks were created to protect the rainforests from logging or other disturbances. Afterwards, the Premier of NSW, Neville Wran, said:
"I know it was not everyone who thought it was a great thing to save the rainforests, but
I’ll make this prediction here today. When we’re all dead and buried and our children’s
children are reflecting upon what was the best thing that the Labour Government in NSW
did in the 20th century, they’ll all come up with the answer that we saved the rainforests."
However, in another Australian sate, Tasmania, the government would not listen to the people and proceeded with plans for a huge dam across the Franklin river to provide hydro power for the multinationals. This dam would have flooded the heart of the great temperate rainforest wilderness, so once again people were forced to resort to peaceful direct action, blockading the machinery. In this case, people came from all over Australia, and more than 1500 were arrested. The state government would not budge, and Malcolm Fraser’s Federal Government refused to intervene. So when the elections came, the conservationists mounted a campaign for the opposition party led by Bob Hawke and swung the government to his Labour Party. When he was elected Prime Minister of Australia, Bob Hawke’s final words were "The dam shall not be built." This is how seriously Australians are now beginning to take the message of conservation.
Solomon Islands rainforest is very special indeed. The renowned American Professor, Jared Diamond of the University of California, spent many years studying the flora and fauna (plants and animals) of the Solomon Islands, and he found that this country has the greatest proportion of endemic species of any country in the world. Endemic means found only here, not found anywhere else in the world. This means that if their rainforest home is destroyed in the Solomons, they will be extinct. For example, Diamond found that only 18% of the land birds of the Solomon Islands are identical to those found elsewhere. (5)
But, if they can’t sell their rainforests, where is the development for a country like the Solomon Islands to come from? If the fertility and well-being of the whole world is at stake, why should a poor country like the Solomon Islands be the one to pay for preserving it? What about the so-called "developed" nations? (6) It is for this reason that we have put proposals to the Australian Conservation Foundation, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Australian Council of Churches and the Australian Government - that aid should be extended to the customary landowners of the Solomon Islands in the form of sustainable developments that would enable the rainforest to be spared.
An example of a sustainable development would be an agricultural development which included a sawmill, so that as land was cleared for agriculture, the people could mill the logs instead of burning them. If the sawmill was portable, then several groups could share in such development. By selling sawn timber instead of logs (as well as using the sawn timber themselves in the villages) far fewer trees would need to be cut than if selling whole logs(7). There would be no mechanical logging, for instance, but people could still collect custom materials, canoe trees, lawyer cane and medicines as before. And their land would be like a part of Noah’s ark - saving the creatures from "the flood of development".
If only people understood how precious in this day and age are clean water, pure air, good customs, people strongly connected to their roots. Bishop Boseto was mentioning the "dropouts" or "pushouts" from the educational system - the ones that the modern, industrial economy has no use for (8) - what to do with these? How to help them develop into fine human beings? If only the older people realised how precious the old ways are, not really "underdeveloped" at all. If people can be made to feel undeveloped or underdeveloped, then they can easily be exploited by the multinationals selling them "development". (9) If they were given the right encouragement, if there was prestige associated with such activities, then the younger people might be happy to work in the villages as before - gardening, fishing, building, not feeling as though they had somehow failed, maintaining strong customs and roots of the culture. But, for this to take place, the people must see through their own eyes, make their own values and not accept the values of those whose intentions are to exploit them. (10).
Then the community would not have all its eggs in the one basket - some of the young people would be receiving "higher" education and joining the western model of the world, while at home, others, with equal status and prestige, not second-class citizens or inferior in any way, would be guarding the old ways, the independence of food and shelter from the uncertainties and manipulations of the market economy. The community would be like a tree. Some of the people are like the leaves reaching out into the world, while some are like the roots, going deep into the earth for stability and nourishment. Which are more important to the tree, the leaves or the roots? The answer must be that both are equally important, the tree needs both to survive.
I say, don’t be blinded by the glitter and tinsel of the western world. It is not sustainable. What you have here is something precious for the whole world and it should be guarded - the rainforests, the reef and ocean, the Melanesian way of life.
If you agree with the things I have been saying, perhaps you can help me to work out how we can get these things across to the people back in the villages, the ones who have the future of this country in their hands.
Although the truths of conservation have only recently been discovered by the "developed" world perhaps we should start referring to it as the "overdeveloped" world), many native and tribal peoples have always know these things, just as Melanesians have always known that the land does not belong to man - man belongs to the land. To end my talk, I would like to read you a message of sustainability and conservation from a great American Indian Chief, which best sums up my feelings on the subject also.
Chief Seattle was born in 1790 and was one of the great chiefs of a federation of tribes occupying the shores of Lake Washington near the current site of the city of Seattle. This is his reply to an offer in 1864 by the United States Government for a large area of Indian lands:
"How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to u. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?
Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man. The white man’s dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful earth for it is the mother of the red man. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crest, the juices in the meadow, the body-heat of the pony and man - all belong to the same family.
So when he Great Chief in Washington sends word that the wishes to buy our lands, he asks much of us. The great chief sends word he will reserve us a place so that we can live comfortably with ourselves. He will be our father and we will be his children. So will consider your offer to buy our land. But it will not be easy, for the land is sacred to us. The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell our land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. This water’s murmur is the voice of my father’s father.
The rivers are our brothers, they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes and fee our children. If we sell you our land, you must remember and teach your children that the rivers are our brothers, and yours, and you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness you would give any brother. WE know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next. for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his brother but his enemy, and when he has conquered it he moves on. He leaves his fathers’ graves behind and he does not care. He kidnaps the earth from his children and he does not care. His father’s grave and his children’s birthright are forgotten. He treats his mother, the earth, and his brother, the sky, as things to be bought, plundered, sold like sheep or bright beads. His appetite will devour the earth and leave behind only a desert. I do not know. Our ways are different from your ways. The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the red man. But perhaps it is because the red man is a savage and does not understand. There is no quiets place in the white man’s cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in the spring, or the rustle of an insect’s wings. But perhaps it is because I am a savage and do not understand.
The clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of the whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night? I am a red man and do not understand. The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of a pond, and the smell of the wind itself, cleaned by a midday rain, or scented with pinion pine.
The air is precious to the red man, for things share the same breath - the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath. The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes, like a man dying for many days, he is numb to the stench. But is we sell you our land, you must remember the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh. And if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where even the white man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadows’ flowers.
So, we will consider your offer to buy our land. If we decide to accept, I will make one condition: the white man treat the beasts of this land as his brothers. I am a savage, and I do not understand any other way. I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train. I am a savage and I do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive. What is man without the beasts? If all the beast we gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.
You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves. This we know: the earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are concocted like the blood which unites one family, all things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth Man did not weave the web of life: he is merely a stand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny.
We may be brothers after all. We shall see.
One thing we know which the white man may one day discover - our God is the same God. You may think that you own Him as you wish to own our land, but you cannot. He is the God of man and His compassion is equal for the red man and the white. The earth is precious to Him, and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator. The whites too shall pass; perhaps sooner than all the other tribes. Contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste. But in your perishing, you sill shine brightly, fired by the strength of the God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this and land and over the red man. That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with the scent of many men, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by the talking wires. Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone. The end of living and the beginning of survival.
(1) To get some idea about local feelings towards Levers (after more than 80 years in the Solomons), consider the following: in April 1982, 200 members of Koroga Tribe sacked and burned a Lever’s logging town at Enoghae in North New Georgia - dozers, cranes and trucks. They were assisted in this by some of Lever’s own employees and an estimated $1 million of damage was done. Two weeks late, the Western Solomons Provincial Parliament passed a motion (without dissent) calling on Levers to get out of the province. Levers ignored this request. (Source: Solomon Islands News Drum, April 16, 1092).
(2) On 5 may 1982, Job Dudley Tausinga (now Premier of Western Province) wrote to the General Manager of Levers Pacific Timbers thus:
"Development by LPT is
- roads in the county so that cars and trucks can drive through;
- the extraction of trees in log form so that cash can be made: tourists come on the road
made by the company.
- towns grow up. The employees live there. So do the people who open stores and sell food
to the people working for the company and to the tourists who come to see what the
company is doing.
- tourist operations make stupid stories and lies about the rives, hills etc. They also trespass
into indigenous-owned places and they do not show respect.
- hotels are built to that tourists can live in comfort.
Most of the money from trees etc. goes to few people who do not really belong to the country and North New Georgia or Koroga land. The company uses the land owned by the local landowners.
- the local landowners lose their heritage, their sacred places and control of their own lives
and development programmes.
- the local landowners (including chiefs) become like animals, hanging around the edge of
the new towns.
- the land is hurt and killed.
Development by Levers Pacific Timbers is just another word for colonialism: the invasion and stealing of other people’s natural resources and lands so as to make money.
Finally, I should advise you, as directed by R Quabula, the Chief of Koroga, that you should halt your preparatory work of intending logging operation whilst we have not completed discussing the fate of your company with the Government."
(3) Bishop Lesley Boseto, Development Co-ordinator/consultant, "Progress Report on Choiseul Community Development 1984":
"The question now faced by Christians in our world, our Solomon Island nation and our
whole island of Choiseul is "How can we continue to witness in both words and deeds to
this Gospel which Christ has already shown us?" We people of Choiseul within the United
Church have many, many preachers. We preachers preach many, many sermons which
we prepare Sunday after Sunday. However, our sermons are usually a heap of words with
very little action! Hence our commitment and obedience to act what we preach is what our
people urgently need rather than just mere preaching. God’s philosophy is not hidden but
(4) The economic always of supply and demand tell us that any country that still has rainforest timbers to sell in a couple of decades when rainforest in other countries such as Thailand and Malaysia has been totally obliterated, will be able to command high pries. At present, because of the tremendous rate of destruction, timbers are heap - cheap enough that they may be used to make packing crates, or chipped to make toilet paper or cardboard boxes.
An interesting example is the case of the Australian Red Cedar. This was the fist kind of timber harvested in Eastern Australia, and less than 100 years ago it was being used for house frames and so on. It was soon cut out, destroyed to such an extent that a single tree may now sell for $10,000 - that’s how are they are. Now they are used only for making the most expensive furniture.
(5) "A Proposed Forest Reserve System and Conservation Strategy for the Solomon Islands" by Jared M Diamond, Professor of Physiology, University of California Medical Centre, Los Angles, California 90024 USA.
Diamond points out that "The fauna and flora of the Solomon Islands are thus of international value. They should frankly be regarded as national heritage, and as a potential economic asset. This asset can be used as a teaching resource, to train the biological managers what the Solomons will need for its future resource industries. This asset can also be used to attract teachers and other biologists from abroad. If the native fauna and flora can be maintained, the Solomons will have the natural advantage required to become a centre of biological training for the Pacific, and possibly for the tropical world."
(6) "According to Emil Salim, Indonesian Minister for Environment, Indonesia would be willing to further reduce deforestation if the Western nations would foot part of the bill. ‘It is an easy formula’ he told Asiaweek: ‘We calculate the cost of conservation. Add to it the cost of economic benefit foregone and the value of lost income. There is no reason why developed nations and the developing nations cannot work out fair cost-benefit analysis of environmental efforts in general." Asiaweeek, 13 July 1984.
(7) Lesley Boseto, United Church Bishop of the Solomon Islands: OUR PEOPLE MUST LOOK AFTER THE RAINFOREST
Today many of our traditional landowners and our village people do not understand the essential importance of the rainforest. They need people who know what has been happening in the world with our rainforest to help them.
Third world countries in the past were blind to sell cheap their raw materials and provided cheap labour force. Today we can no longer do so. Our rainforests have been and are sustaining, preserving and caring for many, many hundreds of thousands of living creatures, including us human beings. Our rainforests preserve sources of our water, food and land. Their existence and survival through many generations have been sustained by good water, plants, crops and animals (pigs, birds etc) from our rainforests).
Because of this, we must be forced by money value, canned and baked food, permanent houses etc to simply allow our trees to be taken out by the representatives of the rich and powerful.
It is here that we must try to take portable sawmills as a matter of urgency for our people to use for sawing their own timbers for their local and inter-island marketing and eventually for exporting them to other countries. This is the time for our leaders who work for the course of justice and peace at every level of our society to educate people in order to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of logging companies." from "Mobile Sawmills for Choiseul Community Development Programme".
(8) "One of the urgent needs caused by our international system of development is the increased number of young people who are not selected by our educational selecting system. From our world’s bureaucratic filing cabinets, they can be classified as rejected, oppressed and helpless and voiceless ones. But from God’s active and creative love, they have powerful and potential resources that can be tapped for community building. How can we see God uncovering, animating and motivating these potential human resources. This question cannot be answered unless we start to do some practical planning for Choiseul Community Development." Bishop Lesley Boseto, "Progress Report on Choiseul Community Development" 1984.
(9) What I’m trying to get at here is what Paulo Freire was referring to in his influential book "The Pedagogy of the Oppressed" (Penguin 1972) as "cultural invasion". "Cultural invasion ... serves the ends of conquest. In this phenomenon, the invaders penetrate the cultural context of another group, and ignoring the potential of the latter, they impose their own view of the world upon those they invade and inhibit the creativity of the invaded by curbing their expiation.
Whether urbane or harsh, cultural invasion is thus always an act of violence against the persons of the invaded culture, who lose their originality or face the threat of losing it...
All domination involves invasion - at times physical and overt, at times camouflaged, with the invader assuming the role of helping friend. In the last analysis, invasion is a form of economic and cultural domination.
Those invaded... begin to respond to the values, the standards, the goals of the invaders... In cultural invasion it is essential that those who are invaded come to see their reality with the outlook of the invaders rather than their own; for the more they mimic the invaders, the more stable the position of the latter becomes.
For cultural invasion to succeed, it is essential that those invaded become convinced of their intrinsic inferiority."
(10) John Roughan, adviser to the Solomon Islands Development Trust pointed out some of the consequences of cultural invasion in his powerful paper on community development. He contrasts (P20) two villages which are the same in most ways except that the village of TABOKO markets in Honiara, while VERAHUL has much less contact with the city.
"Here are a few facts about the number of hours worked by people in both villages and the different kinds of food eaten by the two village people.
WORK EACH WEEK
hours spent in gardening 8 - 12 22 - 23
transportation/selling 0 7 - 11
Total 8 - 12 29 - 34
FOOD EATEN %
root crops 56.5 9.3
coconuts 5.5 3.3
vegetables 9.0 5.3
fruits 5.5 5.4
sea food 14.5 0.0
Sub-total 91.0 23.4
rice 1.4 15.4
biscuits/bread 2.0 19.5
tinned meat/fish 0.7 10.1
tea/sugar 0.7 10.7
beverages 1.4 9.4
tobacco 1.4 6.7
others (onion etc) 2.1 4.8
Sub-total 9.0 76.6
A number of things must be said about what has happened to Taboko because of its close links with Honiara. The amount of money has greatly increased but most of it has been spent on buying food rather than growing it. Here are some less than happy things that are happening to this village.
1. Exchange of food and other things between families has gone down.
2. Cooperation in communal work is done.
3. Land disputes are on the rise.
4. In times of food shortages (big rains, flooded rivers) not enough food in the village.
5. Dental problems rising and ‘weak blood’ because of the new foods.
6. Discipline problems rising because parents are away from village for long time."
Diamond (above) on "How can one exploit renewable resources at the highest sustainable rate?: "Let us begin by distinguishing between renewable and non-renewable resources. Non-renewable resources are those which do not reproduce themselves, such as minerals. The mineral assets of the Solomon Islands consist entirely of what is sitting in the ground now. The rate at which minerals are dug up has no effect on the total amount available in the long run for exploitation: the total amount of bauxite exported from Rennell will be the same whether it is all mined within the next ten years or within the next fifty years.
Biological resources, however, renew themselves by reproducing. In this case, the rate of exploitation has a profound effect on the long-term yield. Consider the tuna fishing industry as an example. Suppose as one extreme that the fishing fleet was so efficient that it could catch tuna in the sea within the next year. Or, to take a more likely and not so extreme case, suppose that it catches so many tuna over the next five years that the tuna population declines greatly and the industry becomes uneconomic. There will have been a high-short-term yield, but this yield is not sustainable, and the long-term yield averaged over many years will consequently be low.
Suppose at the other extreme that the fishing fleet has few boats. There is a very low short-term yield, but the long-term yield is not high either. There is not threat to the tuna population, but most tuna just die natural deaths and are wasted.
If one imagines gradually increasing the catch rate, the yield will increase up to the point where tuna are reproducing as fast as possible and their reproduction rate just equals the catch rate. If the catch rate is increased higher, the tuna cannot reproduce fast enough and are doomed to extinction or at least to a population crash that jeopardises the fishing industry’s existence. Obviously, one should adjust the catch rate to the reproductive rate of the tuna if one wants a profitable and stable industry..."
Diamond then goes on to discuss difficulties in determining the maximum safe exploitation rate for a biological resource and the need for trained people to do this.
"Three practical lessons emerge from this discussion of renewable resources:
1. In any industry based on exploiting a renewable biological resource, determination of the maximum safe exploitation rate is important to the productivity and stability of the industry. People with training in biological management are required to make such determinations.
2. If such biological managers cannot be trained among the Solomon Islanders to represent the interests of the Solomons, the Solomons will be at the mercy of foreign interests. Suppose, for example, that the tune fishing industry in the Solomon Islands has been developed by country X, and the timber industry by country Y. The economic interests of these countries may be best served by exploiting the resources at a high short-term rate, depleting the stock of the Solomons, and moving the industry to another country. This conflicts with the Solomons’ national interest. Thus, training of its own biological managers becomes a priority matter for the Solomons, since the main resources of the Solomons are biological.
3. There is no real difference between conservation and optimal exploitation strategy, is both are broadly conceived. The best exploitation strategy is the one that gives the highest yield while preserving the stock. It is unfortunate that conservation is sometimes construed as zero exploitation and is pictured as in conflict with economic development. Such a misconception undermines stable economic development based on expert information, as much as it creates unnecessary resistance to conservation measures."
Earlier, Diamond gives examples of "innumerable biological resources that were exploited to extinction, although with a moderate exploitation rate the industry could have continued indefinitely. Examples are the 19th century sandalwood industry in the Pacific, the Atlantic whaling industry, buffalo hunters of the United States etc."
Another more recent example that has occurred since Diamond wrote this paper is the disastrous crash of the fishing industry in Peru.