The University of Arizona

Deforestation: constructing problems and solutions on Sierra Leone's Freetown Peninsula

Paul G. Munro


This article examines the issue of deforestation on Sierra Leone's Freetown Peninsula, specifically analysing the gap that exists between the rhetoric surrounding the problem of deforestation and the subsequent policies and projects that are implemented to address it. It is argued in this paper that this gap can be better understood by examining how different actors involved in policy and projects interact over the issue of deforestation. Such an examination reveals how these actors produce discourses of blame towards poorer, politically weaker groups, which ultimately results in deforestation 'solutions' that intervene into their lives. These prescriptions of blame and subsequent solutions for deforestation are negotiated through a combination of local realities, which includes the occurrence of deforestation, and global influences such as development discourses and interventions. The analysis here reflects a political ecology framework that also draws from post-structuralist insights and reveals how underlying discourses, actions and actors across a broad political, social and economic spectrum ultimately play a role in influencing the causes, perceptions and solutions relating to deforestation.

Keywords: Deforestation, Political Ecology, Freetown, Discourses, Development, Sierra Leone, Africa

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