Sunday, January 6, 2008

When all sides win: treehuggers & developers unite through science

All too often those of us who relish in the natural world find ourselves at loggerheads with the forces of development. Attempts at reconciliation of these two strongly opposing interests have consistently fallen short of the mark.

In a growing body of research, scientists are now arguing that this is less due to irreconcilable differences in human society and the natural world, than it is to a lack of understanding of basic ecology. In other words: There is hope for our future. However, to make things work, we are going to need to start reconsidering how we design our cities, towns, roads, houses, etc.

This might not seem like news to those of us with a head screwed firmly onto our shoulders. The surprising thing is though, that until recently, there was absolutely no science to back this idea. Until recently, no rigorous study had been undertaken to examine
how we might redesign the human world.

In a growing area of research, defined recently as "reconciliation ecology" numerous scientists are beginning to put together the pieces of the puzzle linking biodiversity and ecosystem health to practices of human land use
in the human landscape.

This is not simply a case of the management and study of parks or wilderness areas, but management, planning and design of land use in urban areas and all land that is human occupied.

What is truly revolutionary here is that a large effort is now underway to examine case studies of human/wildlife coexistence in combination with rigorous scientific study of the underlying mechanisms of species diversity (biodiversity) in the human landscape.

The goal of this work, is to enable us to preserve the greatest amount of species diversity and ecosystem function as possible, while allowing for intelligent development
[editors note: not to be confused with the "wise-use" movement - which is a largely corporate backed propaganda campaign designed to open up land use to the most destructive and lucrative interests imaginable. Wise-use is not scientifically backed land-management].

According to Dr. Rosenzweig, a leading authority in this area, and world-renowned ecologist, "
reconciliation ecology is the science of inventing, establishing and maintaining new habitats to conserve species diversity in places where people live, work or play. Reconciliation Ecology seeks environmentally sound ways for us to continue to use the land for our own benefit."

For those of us who are big readers, and really interested in this topic, a great introductory book is Win-Win Ecology by Dr. Rosenzweig.


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