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Assumptions about Ecological Scale and Nature Knowing Best Hiding in Environmental Decisions

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Hull, R. Bruce; Robertson, David P.; Richert, David; Seekamp, Erin; Buhyoff, Gregory J.

Year Published

2002

Publication

Conservation Ecology 6(2):12

Abstract

Assumptions about nature are embedded in people's preferences for environmental policy and management. The people we interviewed justified preservationist policies using four assumptions about nature knowing best: nature is balanced, evolution is progressive, technology is suspect, and the Creation is perfect. They justified interventionist policies using three assumptions about nature: it is dynamic, inefficient, and robust. Unstated assumptions about temporal, spatial, and organizational scales further confuse discussions about nature. These findings confirm and extend findings from previous research. Data for our study were derived from interviews with people actively involved in negotiating the fate of forest ecosystems in southwest Virginia: landowners, forest advisors, scientists, state and federal foresters, loggers, and leaders in non-governmental environmental organizations. We argue that differing assumptions about nature constrain people's vision of what environmental conditions can and should exist, thereby constraining the future that can be negotiated. We recommend promoting ecological literacy and a biocultural approach to ecological science.

Citation

Hull, R. Bruce; Robertson, David P.; Richert, David; Seekamp, Erin; Buhyoff, Gregory J. 2002. Assumptions about Ecological Scale and Nature Knowing Best Hiding in Environmental Decisions. Conservation Ecology 6(2):12

Last updated on: August 11, 2006