Saturday, April 20, 2013

2006: A Key Year for Landscape Scale Conservation Planning?

2006 was a key year for disciplines relevant to landscape scale-conservation planning.  Climate change made the April cover of Time magazine:  a polar bear stranded on a tiny floe of ice stares balefully into the melting waters above a headline that read “Be worried, be very worried.”  Thus the term “climate change”, a topic that had for some time been regarded as a pressing environmental issue by the scientific and some sectors of the policy community, came to public attention in a manner that had not perhaps happened before.  

That same year at their 91st annual meeting in Memphis, Ecological Society of America, ecology’s largest professional body, labeled invasion ecology and restoration ecology as “upstart” disciplines, indicating their relative newness, and contrasting them with disciplinary “icons” (community ecology, ecosystem ecology and so on).  

Moreover, green infrastructure, a concept that emerged in mid-1990s in discussions over the implementation of conservation-oriented land management, especially in urban settings, was the subject of a 2006 book by Mark A. Benedict and Edward T. McMahon, entitled Green Infrastructure: Linking Landscapes and Communities and published by the influential Island Press (Benedict and McMahon 2006).  

Finally, around this time there was a growing appreciation of the value of integrating social science perspectives into land management, and this was signaled by the emergence of a body of theory known as social ecological systems research, and the assimilation of the notion of “resilience” into planning for sustainable management  (Redman et al. 2004, Folke 2006).

Taken together, climate change science, restoration ecology, invasive species ecology, social-ecological systems research, and green infrastructure planning are the predominant disciplines undergirding contemporary urban conservation management.  Considering the relative infancy of these disciplines it is hardly unsurprising that the successful translation of these disciplines into precise recipes for action are slow in coming.

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