Sanders van der Leeuw on local scale impacts

Sander van der Leeuw, dean of the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University
Photo by: Dave Tevis/Arizona State University

This article is also relevant in that it is about the flow of information in networks.

vdLeeuw looked at what happened when roads were built (post WWII) into Epirus, an extremely rural region between Greece and Albania.

“What happened is that initially, the information network in those very close-knit communities was centered on the village, leading to a very homogeneous ‘information pool.’ Once there were roads, little by little new connections were made between people in the villages and people in the nearby larger town

“There was a long-term stable equilibrium in the villages. But once the roads were built each village was confronted by a choice: ‘Do I go the urban way or do I stay rural?’ and that had an impact on the choices people made in how the inhabitants managed the landscape.”

The result was the villagers stopped spending so much time in the hilltops, which soon became too overgrown for them to herd goats, plus the kids moved away and did not want to herd goats. The farms changed to pigs, and trees began to grow on the hills.

“What you see here is how tiny things, and in particular the opening up of a rural isolated community to the world’s system, completely changes the society, the subsistence, the vegetation, other aspects of the environment. You can see how a whole system completely shifts simply by tying it into the world system,”

Quotes, and photo, are from the Arizona State University newspaper. vdLeeuw teaches at ASU.

I believe the publication is: Dearing, J.A., A.K. Braimoh, A. Reenberg, B.L. Turner II, S.E. van der Leeuw. “Complex land systems: the need for long time perspectives in order to assess their future”. Ecology and Society (2010).

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Posted on June 1, 2012, in Social Organisms. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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