Guilford Harbor

Archive for the ‘community conserved areas’ Category


In this week’s issue of Nature: Will species be able to keep up with climate change and how does this impact how we think about parks?

Thursday, December 24th, 2009


One of the outcomes of climate warming is that species will have to move to remain within climatic zones that match their physiological tolerances.  Some common examples include the northward migration of boreal forest species into areas that are currently tundra and the upward migration of mountain species.

As Scott Loarie and colleagues note1 in this week’s Nature (subscription required), we often think of mountain ecosystems as being particularly threatened because alpine species have nowhere to go.

To analyze this challenge, they looked at the spatial gradients of temperature across land masses of the world.  These data indicate how temperature changes over a known distance (temperature gradient = degrees C per kilometer).

Then, they used climate model model projections to determine how fast the temperature of a region will change (warming rate = degrees C per year).

By dividing the warming rate by the temperature gradient, they determined what they called the temperature velocity (kilometers per year)—which is basically represents how fast you (or another species) needs to move along the earth’s surface to maintain a constant temperature (check this division for yourself to see how the units cancel).

What did they find?


Posted in biodiversity science, climate change science, community conserved areas, risk analysis | No Comments »

In this week’s issue of Nature: Rethinking global conservation

Thursday, November 19th, 2009


Robert Smith and colleagues argue1 that it’s time to reorganize the approach to conservation in developing nations.

They are critical of academics and NGOs for missing what they think really matters—effective, on-the-ground research and policy development with strong local participation and buy in.

Part of this stems from the focus of academics.  They cite as an example the work of Norman Myers and Conservation International, who published a now-famous map of biodiversity hotspots.

The map was marketed as a tool for identifying where conservation investment would have the biggest impact, but this involved playing down both how little was actually known about species distributions and that accurate global data sets on the costs of implementation were not available.

These limitations did not stop the map doing its main job, which was to raise funds and show broadly where Conservation International should target its efforts. In fact, the initiative has been extremely successful and helped to raise an estimated  US$750 million for conservation within hot spots. But the hype led many academics to treat priority area setting as simply a question of working out what lives where. This led to many studies that took no account of how plans are implemented.

And part of it stems from traditional structures of NGOs, which, in Smith’s words,

[facilitates] the need to create a sense of urgency among donors lead[ing] to short-term funding and ‘quick and dirty’ projects, which rarely gain local long-term support. Second, NGOs tend to advocate their institutional methodology, rather than allowing local agencies to develop approaches that best match their needs. Third, NGO researchers find it easier to produce articles on broad-scale issues for high-impact journals, which helps to build scientific support for new campaigns, than to write papers about research on local issues.

What’s the new approach they advocate?


Posted in biodiversity science, community conserved areas, nature and culture, social science | No Comments »

Good intentions, bad legacies: A history of why natural resource management sometimes fails

Friday, October 23rd, 2009


In the latest issue of Ecology and Society (open access), Colin Beier and colleagues provide an interesting case study of the Tongass National Forest (Alaska), examining the social-ecological dynamics of resource systems and why they often fail–in the long term–to deliver either improvements in public welfare or ecological sustainability. It’s important to note that they’re talking about a paradigm typical of 19-20th Century USA (i.e., post-colonial people of European descent in North America).

What I like about this case study is its generality to several kinds of natural resources and the lessons it offers when considering development in the modern world.

You’ll see at the end that they describe a solution similar to the growing Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCA) movement promoted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  And you’ll see an example of the changing focus of The Nature Conservancy as they work to promote sustainable development alongside conservation.

An excerpt:

Government efforts to stimulate the development of natural resources for public benefit often seek to implement a vision at grand scales that, over time, creates a cycle of dependency that undermines the original social purpose as well as the resource base that was intended to be sustained. In the United States, this has occurred with respect to agriculture, forestry, fisheries, water, and many other types of resource systems.  Similar cycles of dependency have emerged through international aid programs to developing nations that were intended to create self-sufficiency through resource development. Although the goals of these programs are often socially admirable and provide an economic stimulus to initiate changes that would otherwise lack the resources to emerge —i.e., to escape from poverty traps —they often result in challenging social traps that can constrain options for future generations. Why have these governance efforts failed so consistently, and what lessons can be learned that would enlighten efforts to address new frontiers of resource governance and public welfare in a rapidly changing world?

What did they find?


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Posted in community conserved areas, environmental history, sustainable development | No Comments »

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