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Why Conservation Is Failing and How It Can Regain Ground

Why Conservation Is Failing and How It Can Regain Ground

Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Why Conservation Is Failing and How It Can Regain Ground
    Book Description:

    Critics of environmental laws complain that such rules often burden people unequally, restrict individual liberty, and undercut private property rights. In formulating responses to these criticisms, the conservation effort has stumbled badly, says Eric T. Freyfogle in this thought-provoking book. Conservationists and environmentalists haven't done their intellectual homework, he contends, and they have failed to offer an understandable, compelling vision of healthy lands and healthy human communities.Freyfogle explores why the conservation movement has responded ineffectually to the many cultural and economic criticisms leveled against it. He addresses the meaning of good land use, describes the many shortcomings of "sustainability," and outlines six key tasks that the cause must address. Among these is the crafting of an overall goal and a vision of responsible private ownership. The book concludes with a stirring message that situates conservation within America's story of itself and with an extensive annotated bibliography of conservation's most valuable voices and texts-important information for readers prepared to take conservation more seriously.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13329-5
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-13)

    Participants in today’s clashes regarding land conservation—usinglandin its broadest ecological sense, to include not just soils but wildlife, water, ecological processes,andhumans—tend to approach the battlegrounds from two quite different directions. Those who promote conservation typically respond to some inner longing to respect nature’s processes. They care about living creatures, often passionately, and want nature’s beauties and life forms near at hand. On their side, critics of conservation are prone to approach the issue from a felt need to protect individual liberty. They value the free exercise of entrepreneurial energies and prefer government to remain...

  4. CHAPTER 1 The Four Faces of Resistance
    (pp. 14-51)

    In one of several essays lamenting the decline of his home countryside and farm communities like it, Kentucky writer-farmer Wendell Berry comments pointedly on what he perceives as the fading away of old political distinctions. Longstanding political dichotomies, Berry tells us, have become confusingly meaningless. Communists and capitalists, Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives: all have bowed down to supranational corporations and to the juggernaut of the global economy. None takes interest in food quality, land health, or the plight of struggling communities, urban and rural. All show contempt for country life and country places. For a person concerned about...

  5. Chapter 2 Five Paths and Their Values
    (pp. 52-82)

    One piece of advice commonly offered to inexperienced short-story writers is to begin a narrative not at the beginning, but close to the end. Start in the thick of things and fill in the background as needed, and the shorter the story the closer to the end one ought to begin. “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall,” for instance, a well-wrought tale by Katherine Anne Porter, begins with Mrs. Weatherall on her deathbed. We witness her final hours and through asides learn about her life, the suffering she endured, the choices she made and how they affected her plight. Much of...

  6. Chapter 3 The Lure of the Garden
    (pp. 83-112)

    Recent public talk about land conservation has featured prominently, if not been dominated by, several different contentions that we can reasonably achieve our land-related environmental goals if only we embrace some simple measure or particular policy idea. Most notable of these has been the claim that land conservation will come about, to the extent that it makes good sense, when all parts of nature are privatized—that is, turned into secure private property. Related to this is the claim that conservation will take place, again to the degree that is most sound, when the market is fully unleashed and when...

  7. Chapter 4 Back to Sustainability
    (pp. 113-143)

    To the extent that there is an overall goal today for land conservation (defininglandbroadly, as before), it is likely to be, most people would say,sustainabilityor some similar term that includes the adjectivesustainable.Other contenders for this role do exist, to be sure. For years, pockets of academics have pushed for a goal better grounded in science or nature, such as ecological integrity, biological diversity, or ecosystem health. Among the more radical activists, the call has gone out to restore our native fauna, particularly big predators, and to have that restoration serve as the conservation centerpiece. Then...

  8. Chapter 5 What Is Good Land Use?
    (pp. 144-177)

    If conservation is to regain its bearings, the place to begin is with the land, broadly defined, and with the people living on and drawing sustenance from it. Conservation, ultimately, is about promoting good land uses for the benefit of people, future generations, and the land itself. But what is good land use? What are its characteristics or elements, and how do they fit together? Is the best way to identify good land use to start with the land and its ecological functioning and then add the people, tailoring their activities so as to sustain that functioning? Or should we...

  9. Chapter 6 Conservation’s Core Tasks
    (pp. 178-218)

    The foregoing chapters, expressly and by implication, have patched together a catalogue of work tasks that await the conservation movement’s attention. The list is rather long, much of it dealing with the knotty challenge of fostering a nature-respecting culture. Indeed, one reason why the conservation movement today is so fragmented is precisely because the job list is so long. Busy working on the specific pieces, few conservationists give thought to the whole and thus to the matter of priorities.¹ Can we sensibly pare down this working list? Can we identify the overriding conservation tasks, especially the ones that require concerted...

  10. Conservation’s Central Readings: A BIBLIOGRAPHIC ESSAY
    (pp. 219-254)
  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 255-256)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 257-288)
  13. Index
    (pp. 289-302)