September 29, 2022

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Few models of game management are suitable in today's world

Few models of game management are suitable in today’s world

In order for humans and wildlife to participate in areas that are under increasing pressure, the wildlife management framework must have room for different interests and perspectives.

The moose management in Norway has been cited as an example of management that is doing well. Photo: John D.C. Linnell/Nina.

The battle on the ground escalates. We have become more people. We are building more, and we have an increasing need for natural resources. At the same time, we must take care of the wild animal species. This means that there is also a growing need to find models for coexistence between game and humans. Or models for “sharing land” – not “providing land”, as it sounds so good in English.

What are the appropriate management models for it? This was our starting point for reviewing the various frameworks for wildlife management, and putting them in historical perspective, says Bjorn-Peter Kaltenborn, a senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Natural History (NINA).

Together with colleague John D. C. Linnell, NINA Senior Researcher and Professor at Inlandit University College (HINN), recently published the article “Possibilities of coexistence between different wildlife conservation frameworks from a historical perspective» In Frontiers in Consercation Science.

Long story – more and more conflict

It has been possible to draw lines in wildlife management since the 17th century and the first animal welfare activists. However, most of the management frameworks that characterize wildlife management today emerged in the 1960s and 1970s.

One might think that the field has evolved further in the direction of agreeing to good game management, but almost all ideas, tendencies, and ideologies that have emerged throughout history are still alive and have followers, says Kaltenborn.

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He says that there is a lot of debate about what are the best gaming management models, and that there are more struggles today than before. Much of the controversy stems from different ethical approaches to management.

There is a big gap in what needs to be emphasized, and many frameworks focus on narrow interests, says Kaltenborn.

He gives some examples of this:

The wilderness perspective is pure, and has little room for interests other than keeping the “virgin” nature. Slightly simplified, we have on the one hand ideology-based tendencies that concern individual species and individuals and that animals should avoid suffering, and on the other an environmental ethic concerned with securing ecosystems and the conditions of nature to accommodate habitats for a variety of species and processes. We can describe these opposites as rule-based ethics as opposed to influence-oriented ethics. Among the fringe parties, we find a whole range of perspectives on wildlife management.

Sustainable use unites many interests

Kaltenborn asserts that in today’s complex society we need curricula that have room for different viewpoints and interests, and one must have a pragmatic approach.

Some interests will always be incompatible, but can be resolved by separating them in time and space by having different areas for different activities.

The researchers conclude that few frameworks are sufficient in a modern, multi-purpose world.

Social, environmental, and sustainability perspectives are probably the only frameworks that have enough potential to unite many user interests over time, says Kaltenborn. The socio-ecological perspective links social, economic and ecological processes, and is suitable for dealing with the complexity of land use interests in an overall system. The perspective of sustainability is a practical way to operationalize the policy and diversity of values ​​related to wildlife management, in other words; The interdisciplinarity was shaped by politics.

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Both and in the Norwegian Wildlife Department

How well is Norwegian Wildlife Management at reconciling user interests in areas under increasing pressure? Both, according to Kaltenborn.

He points to the moose management in Norway as an example of management that is doing well.

Moose management in Norway is very good and internationally recognized. It draws on a lot of knowledge, with a strong focus on environmental sustainability. We have hunting quotas that help maintain desirable demographics, and in Norway and Sweden we have the most dense moose populations in the world,” Kaltenborn summarizes.

He points out that there are also some costs to having such a large elk population, and he mentions wildlife collisions and conflicts with the forestry industry due to damage to trees.

Hunting is of great social, economic and cultural importance in Norway, and Kaltenborn says there are also many species that do not do well from a purely ecological perspective, such as grouse.

– This is the case in a country where the outside sphere is largely a cultural territory, and we have strong traditions for a long time. Then we must have a game management that has a good interaction with the agricultural sector. It’s quite different in Alaska, for example.

What is certain is that wildlife management will continue to be a daunting task in the future, as many concerns must be taken into account.

This will likely require an ecologically pragmatic approach with a heavy emphasis on arguments in favor of humans, which is what we often call a anthropocentric approach. It will also require a methodological pluralism as solutions must be adapted to local conditions and cultural contexts. At the same time, he should be warned of what we might call moral relativism, that is, that different cultural values ​​and perceptions cannot be measured against each other, and that all values ​​associated with wildlife are equally important. Kaltenborn concludes that it could open up an “everything is equally good” approach that would undermine attempts to develop administrative regulations that have greater legitimacy and acceptance among the population.

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Contact: Bjorn Peter Kaltenborn