Archive for May 23rd, 2010
WC, from time to time, is involved in his personal capacity with the conservation community. And WC, at other times, is involved in development efforts in his professional capacity. This all leads to a certain amount of compartmentalization of WC’s life.
Historically, these two groups are enemies. The development community wants to put projects together, whether the projects are box stores, gold mines or gas lines. The conservation community has historically seen its role as stopping these kinds of projects, or at least forcing everyone to think and through the consequences, and identify the wishful thinking, of each project. The results of that approach have been destructive.
It’s time to try something new.
©2010 Jerry van Amerongen
In fact, at least one conservation community has tried something new: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council.
SEACC has waged epic legal war with the timber and pulp industry over preservation of the remaining, uncut portions of the Tongas National Forest. In the last few years, SEACC has altered it policies and made an effort to work together with the people it has opposed. Those efforts have enjoyed moderate success. The proposed Tongass Land Management Plan is very nearly a jointly developed plan, instead of yet another 9th Circuit Court of Appeals case.
It’s admittedly controversial, and it’s not always successful, and it possibly works only because SEACC has such an impressive track record of stalling or killing development projects. But it’s important because for the first time the forestry community and the conservation community didn’t automatically go for each others’ throats. Instead, they sat down and worked it out. The new TLMP was developed from science, from shared concerns and with input from the communities involved.
At a time when anti-science is on the rise, when a number of conservation issues are coming to a crisis, WC regards this as a hopeful sign. Maybe this is still at the stage of sniffing each others’ legs, but the key point is that they aren’t trying to tear each others’ throats out. It’s a start.