How is it possible for us to be in an education system and still remain ignorant and detached from the reality of life outside of the societal system? For example, in schools, we learn about the indigenous people in the natural habitats, but how well do we really know and understand the extent of the impact of development on their lives?
Case in point: villagers choking, suffering and dying from the ill effects of haze of forest peat fires in Indonesia in 2015. Do they not have the same rights to live unharmed? In fact, do they need to be registered by the government to be considered citizens or residents having the rights to dwell in the lands where their own ancestors lived?
One reason why I don’t buy wholesale into the education system I was schooled in is because it was mainly designed and formulated through the western colonialist lens. As much as it can be helpful to study ecology through a western perspective, such as learning how to classify regions based on types of climate and vegetation and so on, it is limited when it comes to understanding the nature of the rainforest from the viewpoint of indigenous people who have been living in the rainforest for generations.
When we apply the capitalist, consumerist and materialistic approach to study rainforests, we seem to be fighting a losing battle with the capitalistic economic system over forest conservation.
Ecotourism can easily treat rainforest as just another commodity, as much as ecotourism is needed to raise critical awareness of social and environmental issues.
How do we resolve this dilemma?
For now, there are only questions; no easy answers. One thing I remember Navin, an Eco-Cameron tour guide, said: Nature will recover by herself. Humankind may end up destroying ourselves, but Nature will always recover.