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Weak states and the environment in Indonesia and the Solomon Islands

CollectionsANU Resources, Environment & Development Group (RE&D)
Title: Weak states and the environment in Indonesia and the Solomon Islands
Author(s): Dauvergne, Peter
Keywords: Indonesia;Solomon Islands;timber companies;environmental rules;natural forest harvests;weak state control;environmental management
Publisher: Canberra, ACT: Resource Management in Asia-Pacific Program (RMAP), Division of Pacific and Asian History, Research School for Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University
Series/Report no.: Resource Management in Asia-Pacific Program (RMAP) Working Paper: No. 10
This article compares the control of the ‘strong’ Indonesian state and the ‘weak’ Solomon Islands state over commercial timber companies, focusing in particular on the capacity to enforce environmental rules for natural forest harvests. While remaining sensitive to the differences between the two countries, it shows that in both cases a key reason for commercial forest mismanagement is weak state control over the environmental practices of timber companies. As a result, in both countries destructive loggers have pushed production well over sustainable levels. At these rates, commercial primary forests will disappear in the Solomon Islands in about a decade; and in Indonesia in about three decades. This challenges the conventional view of Indonesia as an immutably strong state. It also suggests that discussions of state capacity must remain sensitive to differences across sectors and time, especially since some issues, such as the environmental management of natural resources, appear to circumvent the generalizations of weak and strong states, making most developing states appear weak.


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