Seeing the Woods

A blog by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society

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Worldview: Regressive Research Policy in Argentina

By Samantha Rothbart


The National Scientific and Technical Research Council is in trouble. This was in the email sent to the RCC blog team by Carson alumna María Valeria Berros on 21st December 2016. She was standing alongside her fellow colleagues and scientists in Santa Fe, in dialogue with research fellows all over the country—particularly outside of the Ministry of Science in Buenos Aires—and describing the dramatic events as they unfolded.  The Council (Concejo Nacional de Investigaciones en Ciencia y Tecnología—CoNICeT) ordinarily consolidates all funding related to research in the country, from PhD scholarships to postdocs, research and travel grants, and, crucially, the carrera del investigador—a permanent researcher position. With certain exceptions, research and higher education institutions do not have their own research budgets, but their staff is funded via CoNICeT. “With budget cuts, social sciences and humanities will be the first to suffer the effects, as usual,” Berros said. Continue reading

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Marriage Trees

“My Tree in Another’s Backyard”

By Anna Leah Tabios Hillebrecht

The first half of September found me in Santa Fe, Argentina, as part of the academic exchange on Transatlantic Perspectives on the Rights of Nature, cosponsored by BayLat and the Rachel Carson Center. It was my first time in South America and I was determined to leave a positive mark. Apart from presenting my research on deconstructing intergenerational equity and identifying the ties that bind nature and future generations at a two-day seminar in Santa Fe, I was also supposed to speak at an NGO-organized activity on “marriage trees” in the Philippines—brought about by specific city and municipal ordinances that require couples to plant at least one tree as part of their marriage license application. Aside from legal issuances, I didn’t know much about trees. So, Valeria Berros, a former Rachel Carson Center fellow and professor at the Universidad Nacional del Litoral in Santa Fe, invited me for a walk on a Sunday afternoon to the Reserva Ecológica across from the town of Santa Fe.


View of Santa Fe, Argentina. Photo: Annah Leah Tabios Hillebrecht.

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Worldview: Taking Care of the “Yaguareté” in the Littoral Region of Argentina

by María Valeria Berros

When you walk around the Littoral region, northeast Argentina, you seldom hear the word “jaguar.” Here and across Argentina the Guaraní expression “yaguareté,” meaning “the real beast,” is more common. The presence of the yaguareté in many famous stories, songs, and legends highlights its importance in Argentine culture and history. The biggest feline on the continent, it used to have a large distribution from the south of the USA to the north of Patagonia in South America but, for a number of reasons, yaguareté numbers  are diminishing dramatically: illegal hunting, changes in the use of the territories, deforestation, and conflicts with farmers. Today, the yaguareté can be found in less than 50 percent of its former territory on the American continent. Continue reading

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Student Project: The Birth of Geoengineering

by Martin Meiske

Congratulations to RCC doctoral program member Martin Meiske, who received the prize for the best poster at the 2015 ESEH conference in Versailles. In his poster he presented his dissertation project on “The Birth of Geoengineering: Large-scale Engineering Projects in the Early Stage of the Anthropocene (1850–1950)”—here, he tells us more about his inspiration and path to the RCC.

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Worldview: Environmental Conflicts and Interdisciplinarity in Argentina

by María Valeria Berros

Environmental issues are highly debated in today’s Argentina, and are researched across a range of disciplines—political science, sociology, anthropology, history, philosophy, literature, and law—as problems linking nature protection, development, and poverty. Analysis has begun to focus on disciplines where the ecological question is fundamentally relevant, such as public debate, risk, and social protest. New social actors have also begun to appear, including environmentally concerned assemblies of neighbors, networks of nongovernmental organizations, and groups of professionals including doctors and lawyers. The different judicial and legislative legal strategies arising from such interdisciplinarity are relevant not only for resolving conflicts but towards widening their visibility, and in some cases establishing new and more protective regulations. Continue reading