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CREES Noon Lecture. “China’s Urban Ecological Shadow? Contextualizing Resource Flows from Russia’s Forests.”

Wednesday, March 7, 2012
12:00 AM
1636 International Institute/SSWB, 1080 S. University

Josh Newell, assistant professor of natural resources and environment, U-M. <br>Sponsor: CREES.

Scholarly research of environmental degradation in the Russian Federation has been attributed primarily to problems and inefficiencies associated with production. However, the underlying causes of some of Russia’s most serious environmental problems can only be understood from within a multi-scalar, interdependent context. Drawing on elements of political ecology, industrial ecology, and consumption theory, the author proposes a conceptual framework that embraces both production and consumption angles and applies it to the empirical case of forest degradation in Post-Soviet Russia, particularly the southern Russian Far East. A dynamic production-consumption framework reveals a Russian forest resource and industry shaped as much by external market demand, as by internal corruption and weak forest governance. In particular, the author considers the impact of booming Chinese demand for Russian timber to build and expand its urban centers. This re-centering of consumption within a production-consumption dialectic carves out a conceptual space necessary to more fully grasp underlying causes of environmental problems and related socio-economic inequities and, more broadly, to counteract an unnecessarily bounded sense of “region.”

Josh Newell focuses his research on relationships between urban sustainability, resource consumption, and environmental change. Specifically, he studies the flows and dynamics of governance within global commodity networks as a means to explore the connections between the urban consumer and resource-based regions. His research also focuses on the metabolisms of urban infrastructure and form and how they can be reshaped to forge more sustainable cities. His work has been published in a number of journals, including Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Ecological Economics, and Landscape and Urban Planning, and he is the co-author of two books on environmental issues in Russia: The Russian Far East: Forests, Biodiversity Hotspots and Industrial Developments (1996) and The Russian Far East: A Reference Guide for Conservation and Development (2004).