Pennsylvania wilds or timber production and oil and gas fields? resource extraction and tourism development in the Allegheny National Forest region
Che, D 2012, 'Pennsylvania wilds or timber production and oil and gas fields? resource extraction and tourism development in the Allegheny National Forest region', Australian Humanities Review, vol. 53.
Natural resource extraction is important to national economies such as Australia’s and to remote resource dependent areas within many developed nations. However, social scientists have long been concerned with the impacts of the ‘boom and bust’ nature of extractive industries on surrounding communities (Dana; Kaufman and Kaufman). Extractive communities’ poverty is attributed to the domination of external actors, specifically: 1) the state/natural resource agency that is a significant holder of rural resources and 2) capital, especially global resource corporations. The external state (bureaucratic power), capital and the national and global economic structure (declining terms of commodity trade and the lack of forward and backward economic linkages in the resource communities) affect resource production and responses within resource-dependent communities (Machlis et al.; Peluso et al.; Freudenberg and Gramling, ‘Linked to What?’). The communities’ geographic isolation also contributes to limited economic opportunities (Randall and Ironside), while the high but intermittent wages encourage people to stay and over-invest or over-specialise in resource extraction. Local community planning and economic development projects have little to no impact on the global and national decision-making environment that affects these communities which remain impoverished, domestic resource-producing colonies (Freudenberg). Preserving environmental amenities may enable the communities to shift to the service sector and decrease poverty in the long-term (Freudenberg and Gramling), but the resource-dependent community (and its employment possibilities) would change from being extractive to non-consumptive (tourism-related) or backdrop-oriented for industrial relocation (Peluso et al.). Tourism may itself lead to another form of export-led dependency (English et al.; Schmallegger and Carson).
Scholarship about rural change shows how property regimes and resource demands have shaped stages of extraction and tourism development in the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) region in the following ways. Firstly, historical land use production has shaped current landscapes as both Native American and European settlers’ land use has led to forest clearing for timber, agriculture and oil (Williams; Whitney; Black). Secondly, the ecological implications of consumption have been recognised, including how rural resource hinterlands have been shaped by urban demands (Cronon). Thirdly, it has been shown that past resource management and land use policies precondition new rounds of development and policy decisions as changing desires for rural resource use are linked to broader global, national and regional economic shifts and the importance of the consumer becomes paramount.