Environment and Nature in Buddhist Thailand: Spirit(s) of Conservation

  • Susan M. Darlington
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4425-0_8570

Two contradictory images strike the traveler in northern Thailand: first is the lush, forested mountains rising beyond expanses of rice paddy land and small farming villages. Second is the spotty appearance of the mountains, denuded of primary growth in large areas and filled instead with economic crops such as cabbages or corn. Both images are set against the backdrop of congested cities, particularly Bangkok and Chiang Mai, through which all travelers pass before seeing rural areas. The contrasts inherent in these scenes point to a major tension in Thailand between the push to develop economically and efforts to conserve and protect the nation's natural resources.

The struggle to find a balance between development and conservation occurs in many arenas, including culture and religion. Various actors for both pro‐development schemes and conservation projects use cultural and religious beliefs, practices and attitudes toward nature to promote their positions. Religious beliefs...

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Notes

Acknowledgements

The research for this paper was undertaken with the generous support of the Joint Committee on Southeast Asia of the Social Science Research Council and the American Council of Learned Societies with funds provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford Foundation; the Association of Asian Studies Southeast Asian Council, with funds from the Luce Foundation; and a travel grant from the Ford Foundation Comparative Scientific Traditions Program of Hampshire College. Much of this article was written under support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Thanks to Barbara Ito, Jeffrey Hagen and the editors of this volume for critical feedback on drafts of this paper. All responsibility for accuracy remains with the author.

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  • Susan M. Darlington

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