University Of Tasmania
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Biodiversity versus nature : values in conflict

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posted on 2023-05-27, 14:31 authored by Ridder, BP
In just a few decades, biodiversity conservation has become the dominant goal within natural area management. The rapid rise to predominance of this concept is widely regarded as a triumph for conservation. However, biodiversity values form only a subset of the many values broadly associated with nature. As the concept of biodiversity becomes more deeply entrenched within management structures, official activities will gradually remake the natural landscape in a way that reflects this subset of values. It is argued that this is a problem, and one that is generated not just by the dominance of the concept per se, but by a general lack of awareness of the full range of values associated with nature, or, more precisely, our actual motivations for valuing nature in the variety of ways that we do. To explore this problem, and to generate some insight into possible solutions, the justifications typically presented for conserving biodiversity are examined. It is demonstrated that the ubiquitous claim that biodiversity is essential for the maintenance of ecosystem services is undermined by the dependence of most services on species associations that are highly substitutable or resilient to environmental change. By contrast, the strongest argument for conserving 'diversity' is that it has intellectual interest, particularly for those who dedicate themselves to the biological sciences. The values more broadly associated with nature are then examined, initially through review of such terms as 'naturalness', 'wildness', and the 'autonomy of nature'. The most prevalent explanation for the value of such qualities is that wild nature is evocative of some larger-than-human context. However, the view that nature has value 'for itself' ‚ÄövÑvÆ that is, inherent value ‚ÄövÑvÆ is subsequently shown to have a number of other sources. These are described as 'motives', of which four are identified: 1. The experience of connection with nonhuman life; 2. Scientific interest in nature; 3. Respect for the larger context; and 4. Dissatisfaction with the abstractions of modern society. The first constitutes the dominant motive for animal welfare groups, while the second provides the dominant motive for biologists whose primary concern is the conservation of biodiversity. Motive three is particularly associated with 'spiritual' values, while motive four provides a convincing explanation for the value of naturalness and wildness, being qualities diminished by intentional human activity. The potential for conflict and convergence between these motives and the subset of values associated with biodiversity are then explored. This exercise is assisted by two conflict case studies: the debates between animal welfare activists and conservationists, and between proponents of ecological restoration and wilderness preservation. The latter serves to highlight the need for wildness values to be accorded a greater level of legal protection, as there is the risk that such values will be eroded by conservation programs oriented primarily toward safeguarding biodiversity. Greater awareness of the motives underlying the value of wild nature will assist in achieving this end.




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  • Unpublished

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Copyright 2007 the author Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2007. Includes bibliographical references. Ch. 1. Introduction -- Ch. 2. The dominance of biodiversity -- Ch. The value of biodiversity: ecosystem services -- Ch. 4. The value of biodiversity: commercial opportunity -- Ch. 5. The non-instrumental values of biodiversity -- Ch. 6. The values of naturalness -- Ch. 7.Inherent values in nature -- Ch. 8. The axiology of inherent value -- Ch. 9. Dissatisfaction with the abstractions of modern society -- Ch. 10. Motive conflict and convergence: animal welfare -- Ch. 11. Motive conflict and convergence: ecological restoration -- Ch. 12. An ethical solution to the 'problem of biodivrsity' -- Ch. 13. Conclusion

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  • Open

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