The Underbelly of Contentious Natural Resource Decisions
Since the world’s first biodiversity strategy was published 25 years ago, scientific evidence documenting the deteriorating state of biodiversity has expanded and improved. Innovations have refined our ability to locate sensitive and rare ecosystems and species, and to prioritize their protection. Planning processes increasingly set out to integrate ecological values with economic interests. Yet, trends and projections for biodiversity are grim, lacking routine protection and popular advocates. In exploring how concern for biodiversity loss can be mainstreamed, this research drew from a diverse body of literature that attributed biodiversity protection, or the lack of it, to a variety of entangled motivations. Those who promote and support projects and activities that lead to biodiversity loss may have culturally constructed perspectives that diminish environmental science and scientists, a superficial or commodifying sense of place, or values that prioritize self-enhancement over concerns for nature, for example. This research unravels these and related influences in decision-making for two contentious proposed energy projects - one fossil-fuel-based, the other renewable. It reveals how project review processes were mostly unresponsive to the motivations underlying resource conflicts that could protect or harm sensitive and at-risk ecosystems and species, such as strong values, and disparities in sense of place or perceptions of science and scientists. Well-intentioned but polarizing leaders contributed to online media frames that emphasized conflict and buttressed extreme positions, while helping shape or reinforce siloed networks that affected the diffusion and uptake of scientific evidence, including biodiversity science. Yet, data from anonymous participants revealed project supporters and opponents were more similar in their values and views than their public personas would indicate. Leverage points to better protect biodiversity were identified for environmental assessment and similar processes.
Monday, 21 August
16:00 - 17:30
16:00 - 17:30