Radical Conservation and the Politics of Planning: A Historical Study, 1917-1945
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This thesis is a historical, sociological case-study of the movement for public control and land-use planning prior to WWII. The impetus for this movement came from a radicalized faction of the forestry profession. Radicalism in forestry centered around a group of professional foresters who were followers of Gifford Pinchot, the nation's Chief Forester from 1898-1910. Pinchot commenced the movement for public control over cutting on private forestlands in in the nineteen-teens. The emphasis in this case-study is on identifying social factors responsible for giving impetus to a movement for collective environmental planning, and the social and environmental possibilities of this subject. Three specific areas are studied: first radicalism in the forestry profession; second the vision of sustainability that emerged from radical forestry; and finally the relationship between the radical foresters and organized currents of the political Left. Findings: The understanding of the scientific conservation and land-use planning movement that has developed in scholarly literature does not provide an accurate characterization of this movement. The neglected vision of sustainability through public ownership and planning associated with radical forestry might be reconsidered in light of the present environmental problems. Despite the fact there was a radical presence in the forestry profession, norms of professional behavior are significant obstacles to radicalization, hence why Pinchotist conservation is anomalous in environmental history. Even though leading personalities in forestry took up the cause of public control, the institutional environmental movement remained aloof, giving indication that there are barriers to the development of an organized movement for environmental planning. Various radical political currents, however, demonstrated signs of receptivity to the scientific conservation movement.