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Unformatted text preview: Denielle Barcelona ANTHRO 115A December 10, 2010 East Timor: Land Degradation and Education : After hundreds of years of being under foreign rule, Timor-Leste (also known as East Timor) finally became an independent country in 2002. During the years of its colonization, Timor-Leste and its abundant natural resources were severely exploited for profits and other unsustainable activities. Furthermore, due to the Indonesian troops and anti-independence militias leading the post-independence referendum violence in 1999, much of the economic infrastructure was destroyed. 1 With the departure of the Indonesians, the Timorese were left with no justice system, only 15% of their buildings, and an extremely weak government. 2 The law that was left after the occupation was Indonesian, and Timorese lawyers or judges were not even allowed to practice their profession. In addition to the lack of judicial system, no government was established. The country then suffers from a lack of a long established political structure. Thus, recovering from the damages of foreign occupation and colonialism, the country’s first priority is reconstruction, especially at the political and economic level. While this is certainly an important thing for a new country to focus on, Timor-Leste should also not neglect its environmental condition. Not only should the Timorese government take the 1 1 Wheeler, Tony. East Timor . Lonely Planet Publications. 15 Nov. 2004. pg. 107. 2 Martins de Silva, Mira and Suasan Kendall. “Issues for Women in East Timor: the Aftermath of Indonesian Occupation.” University of Sydney, Austrailia. 18-22 February 2002 possible environmental impacts of reconstruction into consideration, but it should also develop environmental policies to promote sustainable management of the country’s natural resources. Among the many environmental problems of the country, deforestation, soil erosion, and general land degradation, produce the most negative impacts not only on the physical condition of Timor-Leste, but also on the livelihood of its people. 3 However, rectifying this with environmental policies will not suffice, and might only be short-term solutions. Prevention is also key, and I suggest looking at the education problem in the country as well. Land degradation is a cause of many factors in Timor-Leste. About two thirds of the land mass “is severely degraded with rapid deforestation, grazing, shifting cultivation practices and lack of irrigable land, along with rapid population pressures leading to watershed degradation and erosion.” 4 Based on available data on changes in forest cover from 1972 to 1999, it is estimated that the “rate of deforestation during this period was equivalent to 1.1% per year, four times higher than the global average of 0.3%....
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- Fall '10
- East Timor, Timor-Leste