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Protected areas in mainland Southeast Asia, 1973–2005: Continuing trends

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Since the 1970s, protected area networks in mainland Southeast Asian countries have developed significantly to occupy 4–25 per cent of their respective national areas, located mostly in the mountainous domains of ethnic minority peoples. Through this process, regions that were only nominally part of national geobodies until the 1950s have become more territorially integrated. The complexity of the characteristics and geographical impacts of this territorialisation have yet to be grasped. As a step in this direction, we briefly outline a multilevel systems approach that usefully contextualizes these issues together with a historical and cartographical assessment of the evolution of protected area networks for Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Our main findings are intertwined. On the one hand, protected areas represent a new tool of state intervention in mountainous areas, clearly in keeping with past, notably colonial, actions. On the other hand, this evolution in state territorialisation and attendant power relations have disrupted, far more deeply than previous actions, the pre‐1970s sociogeographical organization in mountainous areas, where most of the region's residual forests remain.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Université Laval, Quebec City, Canada

Publication date: 2011-07-01

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