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Greening the Land.

Greening the Land, Indiana University Audio Visual Center, Bloomington, IN 47405-5901 (1991). Videotape, 32 minutes, rental $60, purchase $160.

A half-hour video about third-world deforestation and tree planting can only hope to raise questions, and the important measure of its success is whether it raises the right questions. Host Avil Agarwal does not try to explain the complexity behind the expanding desert of northern Africa or the eroding hillsides of the Himalayas except by taking a few easy shots at the World Bank, and showing us how impoverished villagers cannot resist the temptation to cut the last remaining trees. Such potshots raise the wrong questions, at least to the open-minded viewer. Whether the World Bank, whose money goes to governments rather than individual projects, can be blamed for environmental problems is a complex question deserving a book or video of its own.

This video should have stayed with the two excellent examples it chooses of communities that have engaged in successful reforestation projects, conquering the temptations of their own poverty and lack of technology. In project S.O.S. Sahel, Sudanese villagers learn how to plant windbreaks and reforest the banks of a river. More important, they learn how to deal with their own people who sneak out at night to cut the new trees and reduce them to valuable firewood. In the Himalayas, the Chitko movement used indigenous species to reforest their hillsides. In both cases the video makes the point that success depended on local people making their own decisions and doing the work. A side note that both case studies make clear is that though organizations may often be led by men, women are often the most vocal and active supporters. This may seem obvious, but in an often guilty middle-class world that wants to do things for poor third-world people, the most important message in this video is social, not environmental. What it doesn't seem to recognize is that even middle-class school districts may no longer be willing to pay $160 for a half-hour video when their budgets are being cut and they can get much more live television or public TV videos for much less.
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Kaufman, Wallace
Publication:American Forests
Article Type:Video Recording Review
Date:Sep 1, 1991
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