This wiki is integrated with another set of wikipages on education for conservation.

The aim of this wiki is to present the principles and practice of conservation management in the context of education and training for sustainable, resilient development. It is a general exploration of the most complex question facing global society; how to construct a human habitat in harmony with nature. The format is a knowledge framework and a set of toolkits for integrating ecology, culture, education and sustainability to make an action plan for managing local ecosystem services. In this context, conservation management is equated with planning for resilience in all aspects of community life. The central idea is that by declaring a locality a 'Place With A Plan' any neighbourhood, settlement or region becomes a distinctive place worthy of environmental improvement. This requires a community conservation management plan, which can be modelled on the preservation or enhancement of its green heritage assets. The plan can then be developed for other community assets, such as transport, security, energy use, tidiness, and opportunities for employment and recreation. The wiki is really a compendium of different approaches to outlines the principles of practical conservation management based on making mindmaps and 'swimlane' process diagrams.

Both sites are maintained by Resilience-UK
and
Goinggreendirect

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Complex agroecological landscape near the Nandi forest Kenya: maize, tea, fallow, and agroforestry species (photo: D. Guerena)


One among many

As one among many species, we have engineered a place in nature, which is unsustainable. World leaders at the 1992 environment summit in Rio de Janeiro accepted this as fact. Strategic plans were made and costed for an ordered retreat to reduce our demand on Earth's resources. The way forward was summarised by Crispin Tickell four years later as follows:

"The ideology of industrial society, driven by notions about economic growth, ever-rising standards of living, and faith in the technological fix, is in the long run unworkable. In changing our ideas, we have to look forward towards the eventual target of a human society in which population, use of resources, disposal of waste, and environment are generally in healthy balance.

Above all we have to look at life with respect and wonder. We need an ethical system in which the natural world has value not just for human welfare but for and in itself. The Universe is something internal as well as external".
(Address given before a conference on 'The Earth Our Destiny', at Portsmouth Cathedral in 2002)
It follows from Rio that there is a dialectical relationship between the top-down development planning of civil society, which impacts on the everyday lives of people, and a basic right of citizenship in civic society that allows and encourages an autonomous grass roots input. The problem is that there is a disjuncture and a structural hiatus between the role of government in promoting citizen-driven plans for sustainability and the capacity of ordinary people to participate in this process with their own action plans. Education in making and operating plans for local action is an important but neglected area in school curricula and community capacity building. This not only refers to biodiversity action plans, but also to plans for all local objects, services, amenities, appearances and relationships that contribute to a satisfying long-term stable connection between people and place. In this broad perspective of education for sustainability, conservation management may well start with an action plan for local green heritage assets, but this data model and experience can also be applied to make environmental improvements in other community features, such as transport, crime and waste.

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Making community action plans is central to the UK's framework of sustainable development, 'One Future: Different Paths'. The basic topic map is set out in the lefthand diagram, where the three strategic objectives of science, economics and governance are the basis of local planning to target a strong, healthy and just society that lives within its own and Earth's environmental limits.

Adults are increasingly called upon to become involved in the local body politic with the aims of strengthening their communities, promoting change and enlivening our democracy. Ian Baptiste, head of the adult education programme in Penn State's College of Education, put it forcibly.

"If you are really interested in civic engagement and development, people ought to be involved in decisions about what's going on in their lives. The leaders are benevolent, they mean well. They are really interested in their communities and making changes. But they are not interested in getting people together to make those decisions. They want to make those decisions for themselves because democracy is messy. You have to bring all those people together and there are some people who are going to shout at you, tell you 'I don't like you.' But that's the process. My experience for the last four or five years has taught me more viscerally that democracy is something you have to learn. It's hard work. But if civic engagement isn't about decision-making, then what is it?"

Public engagement

People become engaged in public life when an issue they care about is at stake. Studies indicate that people aren’t apathetic about their communities, but they often feel left out of the decision-making process by elected officials or other community leaders, particularly when the majority view is ignored. John Dewey, the pre-eminent American public philosopher of the 20th century, viewed American democracy and education as inexorably intertwined. In particular he saw the central issue of democracy as an interaction between citizens so that they should learn from each other, grow with each other, and together make their communities more than the sum of their parts. Education has the important public purposes of training students for lives of civic responsibility and learners at all levels should enter into public discourse about how to make that goal a reality.These days this goal involves learning how to make and operate lone term plans for environmental improvements.

Architects, planners,landscape architects and other habitat professionals have long promoted public engagement in the planning, design and management processes in developing communities and specific housing projects. This was the essence of a project funded by the EU LIFE Environment programme at the end of the last century organised by the UK Conservation Management Consortium and the University of Ulster to bring together UK business, schools and conservationists in a local context to make plans for sustainable development. It was from this work that this particular wiki evolved. This approach is now embedded in ideas about how to engage people in civic enterprises.For example, in a paper delivered during the Vancouver 2006 habitat forum, James R Taylor advocated that sustainable communities depend upon meaningful public engagement in the planning and the design processes.Well conceived participation programmes will foster greater community ownership and control by the local residents who are the beneficiaries. The outcome should result in greater equity, improved individual and community empowerment and enhanced democratic management of our urban environments.

James Wines has elegantly defined our delimma. Nature will correct. It always has its way and, other than showing a certain tolerance for temporary aberrations, allows nothing to get out of control for too long. In the light of these corrective powers, there is serious speculation among ecologists that Homo sapiens may end up being the shortest-lived species ever to occupy earth - victims of its own suicidal misconduct. On the more optimistic side, the supporters of environmental reform and ecological stewardship tend to speak of saving the earth as though the planet were some kind of sickly patient in a recovery ward that should be restored to health for its own good. The earth is hardly the patient and certainly does not need saving. The only real beneficiary in any conservation program is the human race itself. From this perspective, the custodial role is just a faintly disguised version of the same anthro-pocentric premises lying at the core of all irresponsible behavior in the first place. There is no real sense of connectedness implied here, only the usual game of environmental opportunism to see if our deluded species can somehow trick nature into letting us conduct a guilt-free perpetuation of business as usual.

Regaining contact with nature

The only way this condition of disconnectedness can begin to change - particularly as related to architecture - is through a total revision of philosophical grounding and a deep commitment to regaining spiritual and psychological contact with nature. The consistent thread of apology that has run throughout this book is basically a reflection of doubt whether any viable new state of eco-centrism can be achieved in the face of so many conflicting realities. The entrenched systems controlling every aspect of human survival and its interaction with the environment are such that escape is virtually impossible without rejecting (or at least radically modifying) most of the high-energy demand conveniences associated with food supply, disposable products, temperature control, vehicular mobility, and communications technology. It is doubtful that any significant trends toward reduced expectations are imminent, unless, of course, that final Armageddon prophesied by science actually takes place and settles the score for eternity.

In the meantime, architecture still has one of the most important conservation and communication roles to play in any new ecologically responsible vision of the future. The goals of buildings as examples of green policy and as monitors of the collective psyche tend to be compromised by architecture's dependence on the ponderous elements of construction technology. This physical presence alone communicates the opposite of serving the interests of nature, and most construction materials derive from ecologically reprehensible means of manufacture. Avoiding psychological and symbolic content, architecture still seems slavishly and inextricably committed to celebrating the virtuosity of how edifices are put together or how flamboyantly industrial materials can be manipulated. The icono-graphic significance, if any, is the antithesis of eco-centrism.

A great part of the solution is technological, but filtered through a study of the way nature solves its own survival problems.


The wiki

These wiki pages explore the topic of conservation management for citizenship through distance learning based on models interacting with local plans for sustainable development. The overall aim is to create a conservation curriculum. with the practical aim of promoting grass roots natural resource governance skills in making long term plans for a sustainable future. Natural resource governance can be defined as ‘the interactions among structures, processes and traditions that determine how power and responsibilities are exercised, how decisions are taken, and how citizens or other stakeholders have their say in the management of natural resources - including biodiversity conservation’ (IUCN Resolution RESWCC3).



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An ancient public right of way through field of oilseed, Raglan, Wales