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Rosewood Endangered Species Conservation and the Rise of Global China

By: Annah Lake Zhu(Author)
256 pages, 19 photos, 4 illustrations, 2 maps
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  • Rosewood ISBN: 9780674260276 Hardback Jun 2022 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
Price: £34.95
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

From the publisher:

"A riveting study of the booming rosewood trade between China and Madagascar uncovers an alternative approach to environmentalism that disrupts Western models.

Rosewood is the world's most trafficked endangered species by value, accounting for larger outlays than ivory, rhino horn, and big cats put together. Nearly all rosewood logs are sent to China, fueling a $26 billion market for classically styled furniture. Vast expeditions across Asia and Africa search for the majestic timber, and legions of Chinese ships sail for Madagascar, where rosewood is purchased straight from the forest.

The international response has been to interdict the trade, but in this incisive account, Annah Lake Zhu suggests that environmentalists have misunderstood both the intent and the effect of China's appetite for rosewood, causing social and ecological damage in the process. For one thing, Chinese consumers are understandably seeking to reclaim their cultural heritage, restoring a centuries-old tradition of home furnishing that the Cultural Revolution had condemned. In addition, Chinese firms are investing in environmental preservation. Far from simply exploiting the tree, businesses are carefully managing valuable forests and experimenting with extensive new plantings. This sustainable-use paradigm differs dramatically from the conservation norms preferred by Western-dominated NGOs, whose trade bans have prompted speculation and high prices, even encouraging criminal activity. Meanwhile, attempts to arm conservation task forces – militias meant to guard the forests – have backfired.

Drawing on years of fieldwork in China and Madagascar, Rosewood upends the pieties of the global aid industry. Zhu offers a rigorous look at what environmentalism and biodiversity protection might look like in a world no longer dominated by the West."



Introduction: China’s Most Valued Commodity
1. Cultural Bloom, Cultural Boom
2. Hot Money Capitalism
3. Taking Back the Forest
4. Worst-Case Conservation
5. Speculating in Species
6. Pluralizing Environmentalism
Conclusion: Global Chinas of Past and Present


Customer Reviews


Annah Lake Zhu is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Policy at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, a veteran of the United Nations Environment Programme in Geneva, and a former Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar. Her work has been published in Science, Geoforum, and Political Geography.

By: Annah Lake Zhu(Author)
256 pages, 19 photos, 4 illustrations, 2 maps
Media reviews

"Read[s] like dispatches from a foreign correspondent: intrepid, open-minded, and sympathetic to her subjects. [Zhu's] skill as an interlocutor makes for poignant reading."
– James Herndon, Asian Review of Books

"Zhu explores the difference between the prevailing Western approach to protecting endangered species, which advocates trade bans and other protections, and the Chinese one, which promotes cultivation and sustainable use [...] Drawing on her fieldwork in Madagascar and China, Zhu advocates for a deeper and more sympathetic understanding of China's view on endangered species and natural resources more broadly. Her book will no doubt be controversial, but it is an important and necessary contribution."
– Temwani Mgunda, China Dialogue

"An ambitious and visionary global ethnography as exquisite as its subject matter – rosewood. Zhu reveals the intricate political, economic, and ecological dynamics of supply and demand, conservation and logging, and above all the epic contention between two paradigms of environmentalism that will shape the future of another endangered species – humanity."
– Ching Kwan Lee, author of The Specter of Global China

"This book presents the fascinating story of the global connections forged by the rosewood trade between China, Madagascar, and Western conservationists. Zhu carefully analyzes and deftly critiques assumptions about conservationists, consumers, and loggers, and provides a much more nuanced account. Rosewood is a must-read for anyone concerned about the social and ecological impacts of the illegal wildlife trade."
– Rosaleen Duffy, author of Security and Conservation

"Contrasting Chinese and Western imaginaries of forests, Annah Lake Zhu takes readers along on her own transformative journey between the United States, Madagascar, and China. Rosewood is a beautiful and necessary read, opening the path to nothing less than a cultural revolution in environmental conservation."
– Philippe Le Billon, author of Wars of Plunder: Conflicts, Profits and the Politics of Resources

"Annah Lake Zhu's Rosewood deconstructs the chasm between Western and Chinese understandings of the value of rosewood and other endangered species. Transnational environmental groups seek futilely to protect rosewood against poachers and corrupt environmental officials in remote Madagascar parks, while Chinese craftsmen and consumers seek to liberate its beauty through carved furniture that affirms the greatness of China's cultural heritage. The book makes the provocative case that cultural relativism holds the key to conserving global biodiversity, as an increasingly dominant non-Western approach locates sustainability in engineered utility rather than utopian preservation. Fearless, challenging, and engagingly written, Rosewood is required reading for anyone concerned with global biodiversity collapse."
– Judith Shapiro, author of Mao's War against Nature and coauthor of China Goes Green: Coercive Environmentalism for a Troubled Planet

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