Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Farewell, 2010

2010 was a year of many things:

I lost my old paradigm.

I visited Mexico.

I started making pictures again, instead of collecting snapshots.

I finally acquired an Arduino.

And, I came to realize the limits of Adaptive Management. I'm not going to say more about this here, as it is the topic of a couple of articles in preparation. It is clear to me that it isn't the only, best, or often even a good answer to the question of how to translate conservation research into action. David Goulson and colleagues describe the issue very well in a recent forum article in the Journal of Applied Ecology:
For bumblebees, considerable progress has been made in transferring scientific knowledge into practical conservation, but the gulf between evidence and practice remains in some areas, particularly with regard to policy. A major problem in the UK and elsewhere is that no clear mechanism exists for translating scientific evidence into governmental policy. There is little discourse between governmental organizations responsible for conservation and academics carrying out conservation-related research. Decision-making with regard to policies affecting conservation (including agri-environment schemes) is not transparent. Any academic wishing to have an input into conservation policy would be hard put to identify a mechanism by which to do so.
Although they are talking about Bumblebees in the UK, I think the issue is universal. A book that particularly influenced my thinking on this issue is "Embracing watershed politics" by Edella Blomquist and William Schlager. Essentially their message is - politics is everywhere, its the best deal in town, get over it. For making choices about natural resources in the face of differing values and risk tolerances, no matter how much we scientists wish rational thought would prevail, politics is the answer. Goulson was sufficiently frustrated to form an NGO devoted to the conservation of Bumblebees, and engage in the politics directly. I don't want to take that path.

All this has made me question the topic of this blog - too narrow for including what I want to write about, most times. For the moment, I've decided to keep working on it.

Have a happy holiday and a very merry new year!

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