January 13 2010
12:00 LSB 2320
Carlos De la Rosa
Catalina Island Conservancy
Balancing Acts: Conservation in a Complex Social, Economic and Political Climate on Catalina Island
The conservation and management of protected wildlands requires a thorough understanding of the resources (species, habitats and ecosystems) as well as the context within which this conservation actions need to happen. Often, scientific knowledge is simply not enough to carry out effective conservation. A conservation practitioner must be aware of and take into consideration economic concerns, social and cultural context and even political pressures in order to achieve specific and long lasting conservation goals. Often as well, these negotiations require compromises and challenges to the scientists and managers to present their information in compelling ways. The scientific discourse, as well as the reasoning behind needed conservation actions, needs to be adapted to the various audiences and purposes. In the end, conservation seeks to strike a balance between the needs of the resource (in this case wildlands) and the needs of the society that is responsible for its conservation or its destruction.
This presentation explores the programs and projects of a small land trust in California, the Catalina Island Conservancy. Owning 88% of the 47,000-acre island, the Conservancy manages its holdings through a combination of science-based conservation actions, recreational programs, and income-generating activities, seeking to strike a balance between the needs of the island community and the need to protect and preserve irreplaceable natural and cultural resources. Amply illustrated examples include introduced issues such as mule deer management (social, political, ecological), invasive plants (ecological, economic, social), introduced bison (social, economic, ecological), fire (economic, ecological and political), and feral cats (very social and political).
The presentation concludes with observations that stress balance, negotiation and compromise, small steps and big steps, and financing conservation (the organizationís three-leg model). The presentation will illustrate how far the Conservancy has gone to solidify conservation as an integral and important part of society, on the Island and beyond.
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