Rethinking Nature – Engaging society to manage a better future for nature and people.
As conservation science matures there is increasing recognition that nature conservation begins with human value choices. The consequence has been a phase shift in conservation practice. No longer dominated by ecology, agencies and NGO’s now often base work on theories emerging from economics, political science and decision science. In addition, the practice of conservation struggles with emerging social issues (e.g., water and land tenure rights). Meanwhile, the academic community, typically trained in ecology and biological sciences, has struggled to embrace the need for broadened scholarship and innovation in practice. As an outcome-oriented, applied field of scholarship, this reticence is disconcerting. I describe where I see the potential for the social sciences and humanities to lead conservation scholarship and action toward better conservation outcomes. I highlight actions of agencies and NGO’s that are striving to lead the shift toward more socially engaged research using the example of a recent panel convened by the Public Policy Institute of California focusing on freshwater ecosystem-based management in the Sacramento-San Francisco Bay Delta region of California.
Host: Fengzhi He