Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society

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Novel Ecosystems and Adapting Nature Conservation

5th RCC Lecture at ZUG Wien

02.05.2016 18:00  – 20:00 

Speaker: Allen Thompson (Associate Professor of Philosophy, Oregon State University)

Location: IFF, 1070 Wien, Schottenfeldgasse 29

There is an emerging branch of thought in ecology turning attention to examples of recombinant ecology, ecosystems with compositional, structural, and functional profiles for which there is no analog in the ecological record. Ecologists are calling them "novel ecosystems." In his talk, Thompson will explain the concept of novel ecosystems and locate them as having a significant role in adapting received traditions of land management, especially in North America, including the practices of nature conservation and restoration ecology. Pervasive anthropogenic environmental change, ubiquitous and directional, including climate change, exotic species, pollution, and land use/fragmentation, challenge traditional mandates to manage parks and protected areas for "naturalness."

If we understand the intrinsic value of ecosystems to be connected with historical structure and function, then we will have to tolerate more and more human interventions. On the other hand, if we value nature's "wildness" and freedom from human intervention, then we will have to accept ecosystem novelty, in both the composition and functional profiles of emerging ecosystems. The rapid and pervasive emergence of novel ecosystems, I argue, has significance for the debates about "new conservationism" in North America and Australia and has implications for conservation practices generally.

Click here for more information about the talk.