Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Conservation – Bridging the Divide between Precept and Practice

 A perusal of the paper in Conservation biology,   Consevation biology: A displacement behavior for academia?  by Whitten et al set me thinking about research and the practice of conservation.  (Whitten.T, Holmes.D., and Mackinnon. K. Conservation biology, 15(1), 1-3)
Yes there is a slip between the cup and the lip when it comes to conservation research and field practice.
Despite the voluminous research that we have, practitioners are at times, at their wits’ end to find solutions for problems that face them. What is holding back is lack of appropriate information at the appropriate time. Effective communication between researchers and mangers is lacking. It is in fact a sticking point in many areas.
A high proportion of papers published in scientific journals by conservation biologists are seldom read outside of the academic world. Many conservation biologists think that the end of the project is an end in itself. Converting the science into practice seldom happens.  Scientist and mangers have differing professional responsibilities and expectations which in turn compromise the desire and motivation to learn from each other’s expertise.
Ideally there should be sharing of conservation-related experiences between scientists and practitioners. This obviously does not happen. The mundane workshops that are organized at present do not produce any fruitful results.
I feel that for every paper that is published there should be a shorter version sans  hyperbole, meant for mangers. A brief introduction followed by recommendations would suffice. This should become the modus Vivendi for interaction between scientists and researchers.
Many conservation projects are designed to help implement certain specific policy decisions. Policy relevant research assumes significance in this context. Interaction between researchers and mangers before the start of the work will create a win -win situation for all.
Politician usually does not like to be told by scientists what to be done, but if the approach is to convince them that research can help achieve policy goals then they are all ears. Professor Adrain Newton from Oxford says conservation is a highly political endeavor.
Let us start a new chapter where there is continuous interaction between scientists and the manager. The end beneficiary will be our biodiversity.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Why Nature Camps are Important

This post is in response to a request from my friend Ramesh.  Ramesh was asking me whether there is any paper highlighting the importance of Nature Experience vis-a-vis future conservation initiatives. I drew his attention to the paper “The Impact of Nature Experienceon Willingness to Support Conservation” by   Patricia A. Zaradic, Oliver R. W. Pergams , Peter Kareiva. Ramesh was thrilled and requested me to post an item in Highrange Tidings even though I had put a small write up in Tahrcountry couple of months ago. So here it comes.

Patricia, Oliver and Peter hypothesized that willingness to financially support conservation depends on one's experience with nature. They used a novel time-lagged correlation analysis to look at times series data concerning nature participation, and evaluate its relationship with future conservation support. Future contributions to conservation NGOs was taken in to reckoning. The results suggest that the type and timing of nature experience may determine future conservation investment. Time spent hiking or backpacking is correlated with increased conservation contributions 11–12 years later. Each hiker or backpacker translated to $200–$300 annually in future NGO contributions.

The paper has very clear message for us. Kerala forest department regularly conducts nature camps for students and other interested groups. The paper cited gives a very clear indication that the nature camps are indeed an investment for future. The rider is that the camps have to be run on professional basis. It would be worthwhile if an analysis of the camps is done in Kerala. It would be an eye opener for other states also.

Citation: Zaradic PA, Pergams ORW, Kareiva P (2009) The Impact of Nature Experience on Willingness to Support Conservation. PLoS ONE 4(10): e7367. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007367