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The History of Conservation Biology

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by Jennifer Dever on 22 August 2013

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Transcript of The History of Conservation Biology

origins of conservation traced to religious & philosophical beliefs
Transcindentalist Movement
Gifford Pinchot
Conservation Ethic
Resource Conservation Ethic
Evolutionary-Ecology Land Ethic
European Mindset led to rapid Degradation & Overexploitation in the 1800's
North America - the new Promised Land, justified conquering new lands and dominating other cultures
Nature should be converted into wealth as fast as possible to benefit humans (Genesis)
Wilderness = scary, wild, inhabited by evil spirits, in need of “taming”
Industrialization = progress
The History of Conservation Biology
Transcindentalism = "n. 1: A philosophy that emphasizes the a priori conditions of knowledge and experience or the unknowable character of ultimate reality or that emphasizes the transcendent as the fundamental reality 2: a philosophy that asserts the primacy of the spiritual and transcendental over the material and empirical 3: the quality or state of being transcendental"(merrium-webster dictionary)
Christian Stewardship
& Civic responsibility

Head of the Forestry Division of the Dept. of Agriculture (1898)
Adhered to a practical approach to management in a way that is useful for the most people
Management should result in the greatest happiness of the greatest number; equity and efficiency
Prescribed sustainable use
Formed the US Forest Service

Natural resources should be used to benefit humans, and they are considered as separate commodities – which are best managed in the way that will “further the greatest good of the greatest number [of people] for the longest time”
Resources should be used with efficiency and therefore there can be an ordering of uses, with some favored over others
The government should regulate and control natural resources with a long term perspective

Teddy Roosevelt
Conservation of natural resources is democratic and essential to national security

Founder of the American Conservation Movement
“spiritual values of nature superior to material values gained by the exploitation of nature”
Nature provides spiritual enlightenment and should be left alone

created the first NGO (Sierra Club)

John Muir
Preservationist Ethic
Civic Responsibility & the Creation of a National Park
Social Gospel Movement - response to rapid urbanization, industrialization and mass immigration of the 1800's
Recognizing the injustices of ‘‘triumphant capitalism,’’ some progressive ministers prescribed a large dose of ‘‘practical Christianity’’ to right these wrongs and directly address the social needs of the era (Hopkins).
Moral imperative to use resources wisely!
Critical for the success of democracy
Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau

Academia & the Early Ecologists
Henry Cowles
Frederick Clements
Victor Shelford

Defined and documented communities, the role of environmental factors affecting biota and the interrelationship between plants & animals
Aldo Leopold
"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong otherwise"
-Leopold felt that the most important goal of conservation is to maintain the health of ecosystems
Biocentric view: humans are just part of the community!
Must combine ethical conservation with practical experienc AND scientific expertise
A conservation system can't be based wholly on economic motives, because most members of the community have no economic value
Evolution has produced a complex, elaborate, diverse system - we must recognize the ecology and interdependence between the complex structure of the land
Not all ecosystems are then same, and thus should not all be managed in the same manner
Conservation requires private virtue and public law.
Conservation Biology as a Science
1978 - First International Conference on Conservation Biology
1985 - Society for Conservation Biology founded, http://www.conbio.org/ (>10,000 members worldwide)

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived”
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