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

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Hull, Bruce; Robertson, David P.; Richert, David; Seekamp, Erin; Buhyoff, Gregory J.
Journal: Ecology and Society
Volume: 6
Date: 2002
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/2484
Sector: Social Organization
General & Multiple Resources
Subject(s): communication
environmental change
natural resources
public opinion
social change
Abstract: "Assumptions about nature are embedded in peopleâ  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."

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