Monday, November 10, 2014

Conservation Viewpoints And Datapoints

Professor Jane Lubchencko (Oregon State University) and biologist Heather Tallis (The Nature Conservancy) have published a comment in Nature magazine arguing for conservationists to transcend traditional divisions over whether nature should be protected for reasons of intrinsic value, instrumental value, or both.  Appearing in the November 6, 2014 issue, their article, entitled "A call for inclusive conservation," suggests emphasis on two approaches:  valuing viewpoints from all constituencies;  and applying a rigorous, data-driven approach to decision-making.  As the authors write,
It is time to re-focus the field of conservation on advancing and sharing knowledge in all relevant disciplines and contexts, and testing hypotheses based on observations, experiments, and models [footnote omitted].
They characterize their
unified and diverse conservation ethic [as] one that recognizes and accepts all values of nature, from intrinsic to instrumental, and welcomes all philosophies justifying nature protection and restoration, form ethical to economic, and from aesthetic to utilitarian.
In addition, they demand that conservation efforts, however motivated, be
underpinned by a stronger focus on synthesizing and expanding the evidence base that can identify what works and what fails in conservation so that we can move from philosophical debates to rigorous assessments of the effectiveness of actions.
Biodiversity is under relentless assault around the world, with especially dire losses likely to occur within tropical rainforests and coral reefs.  Unity of purpose and rigor of method should be welcomed as a wise response.