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Protéger la nature à l'ère de l'anthropocène : Géo-graphies de l'archipel des Galapagos (Equateur)

Abstract : The emergence of the conservation movement in the late XIXth century in North America turned natural protected areas into a privileged tool for preserving the living. Designed in the first place as islands of nature shielded from human hold,they were progressively integrated in the 1970s to global environmental policies aiming at reconciling conservation and development. Such a dynamics both led to the increase and diversification of protected areas. However, until now, the development of those structures did not prevent from stopping the reduction of biodiversity, a paradoxical situation that isapplying to all the ecological issues. In spite of a strong global environmental consciousness and an increase of actions, measures and environment-oriented policies, we would have entered into a new epoch characterized by the general and irreversible mark of human activities on the earth : the Anthropocene (Crutzen et Stoermer 2000).This thesis aims at questioning the foundations of nature protection in the Anthropocene era. The starting postulate is that the incapacity to meet environmental issues reflects the contradictions of the naturalist ontology which stood out as thehegemonic conception of the relationships between humans and non-humans (Descola 2005). The argumentation is based on a critical analysis of the policies developed in a territory which is quite emblematic of naturalism, i.e. the Galapagos Archipelago in Ecuador. Being a founding place of natural sciences, it represents the most accomplished archetype of the figures (themselves very archetypical) of the laboratory-island or theconservatory-island. Since 1959, the Galapagos have been sheltering national park covering 97% of the land areas and since 1998 a marine reserve, which is among the largest in the world. As the best-preserved tropical archipelago on earth, it also is the place where the environment deteriorates most rapidly (Snell et al. 2002). The protected areas were used to develop a nature-based tourism leading to an increasing integration of the islands to the world-economy and the rest of the Ecuadorian territory, thus breaking up brutally the geographical isolation that was securing their ecological integrity (ibid.). Above all, tourism was the driving force of the demographic and economic growth, which led to a quick anthropization of populated enclaves and a deep change of the archipelago’s space. In other words, the Galapagos can be seen as a concentrate, in time and space, of the logics leading to the Anthropocene.Through the example of the Galapagos, the thesis deals with the environmental issues of our epoch in order to propose a renewed approach of geography. This discipline, originally founded as the science of the relationships between societies and their environment, was later victim of the great share between Nature and Culture, whichpresently expresses itself by conflicts between a naturalist geography and a geography about naturalism. The present research suggest an alternative way to such a dualism and sets down the bases of a geography of the Anthropocene, i.e. a joint study of the human marks on the earth and the narratives that stakeholders and societies produce about them. The first part successively tackles the role played by insular territories in building conservation policies, the progressive naturalization of the Galapagos and the theoretical and methodological framework conducting our analysis. The second part deals with the way the geographical opening threw the archipelago into the Anthropocene, thus challenging conservation policies. The third part shows how nature and the insular issues pertain to multiform and multiscalar logics, leading to the archipelization of the Galapagos.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - 11:34:32 AM
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Josselin Guyot-Tephany. Protéger la nature à l'ère de l'anthropocène : Géo-graphies de l'archipel des Galapagos (Equateur). Géographie. Université de Limoges, 2019. Français. ⟨NNT : 2019LIMO0022⟩. ⟨tel-02358977⟩



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