December 2014 - Parks & Recreation - 31

sets of voices, namely the proponents of instrumental value and the proponents of intrinsic value. The instrumental
value point of view is espoused by those who believe that
protecting nature for its own sake has not slowed the loss
of habitat or the extinction of species, and that the only
prudent course of action is to directly couple conservation
efforts with the goals of business, industry and agriculture,
which will encourage more support for protecting what
matters to people. They argue we should not worry about
protecting all of nature for nature's sake.
Conversely, Tallis and Lubchenco identify the proponents of intrinsic value as those who believe that protecting nature for its own sake is right and proper and that
partnering with business, industry or big agriculture is a
craven sell-out, for it is those very industries that have led
to species extinction and widespread loss of critical habitat. According to the intrinsic value point of view, protecting nature and all species within it for their own sake, even
those that have no apparent value to man, is sufficient reason to promote the cause of conservation.
Tallis and Lubchenco decry the present state of affairs
and forcefully call for an end to the destructive debate that
is raging among a small minority of mostly men within
academia, institutions and organizations. They advocate
for the adoption of a big-tent philosophy that allows for
acceptance of both views according to the context, and
which addresses needs that align with the values of promoting diverse points of view. They claim that the very future of conservation science, practice and policy is at stake
unless the hatchet is buried, and they state that there is
plenty of room for a diverse and unified conservation ethic, " one that recognizes and accepts all values of nature,
from intrinsic to instrumental, and welcomes all philosophies justifying nature protection and restoration, from
ethical to economic, and from aesthetic to utilitarian. "
They note that this combined, diverse set of ethics has
guided conservation in America for more than 100 years
and was the underpinning of the rationale to create Yellowstone National Park, perhaps America's greatest conservation success. They pointedly note that there is little
gender equity within this raging debate and that the views
of women, minorities and other cultures are rarely heard.
They call for more diverse voices and points of view, and
for a more constructive dialogue.
The issue of who conservation is for is not just a philosophical or theoretical debate by ivory-towered academics.
It has very real meaning to all of us in the field of parks and
recreation. Increasingly, parks are viewed as protectors of
	

biodiversity. A recent report by the World Wildlife Fund,
the 2014 Living Planet Index, identifies the shocking loss of
the word's vertebrate wildlife species - more than 50 percent in the past 40 years. The greatest losses have been in
freshwater species of fish, reptiles and amphibians - up
to 76 percent decline, but virtually all species have shown
significant downturns.
Park and recreation agencies are coming to see that the
public wants and expects them to conserve wildlife species and make this a priority of their mission. And there
is ample evidence to show public support. Bond measures
for land conservation and open-space protection passed at

Park and recreation agencies are
coming to see that the public wants
and expects them to conserve wildlife
species and make this a priority of
their mission.
an astonishing 75 percent approval rate in the recent midterm elections. The Outdoor Industry Association's annual
report on outdoor recreation participation trends identifies
wildlife viewing and birdwatching as among the top three
favorite activities nationwide for youth and adults. Perhaps
more tellingly, however, more than one-third of respondents, when asked why they did not participate in outdoor
activities, replied, " Not interested. " This is an area of deep
concern for those who believe conservation is important.
For parks and public lands, conservation is very much
about what we do every day - it is about protecting habitat,
educating the public, managing volunteers and being protectors of our natural resources and wildlife. Perhaps most
importantly, it is also about connecting kids to nature and
the outdoors and guiding youth to develop a sense of conservation ethics and responsibility for conservation stewardship.
The debate may continue to rage among academics and
scientists about the purpose of conservation, but clearly
the adults in the room are taking notice of how destructive
some of it has become. For those of us in parks and recreation who manage conservation lands, frankly, we think it
is more important to be spending our time making conservation matter to all people, all the time.
Richard J. Dolesh is NRPA's Vice President of Conservation and Parks
(rdolesh@nrpa.org).

W W W. N R PA . O R G | D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 4 |

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December 2014 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of December 2014 - Parks & Recreation

December 2014 - Parks & Recreation - 1
December 2014 - Parks & Recreation - 2
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