African Journal of Range and Forage Science

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Conserving rangeland resources.

MT Mentis


The aims of the paper are to (1) identify the properties of conservation, (2) explain its poor implementation, and (3) propose remedies. The main characteristics of conservation are that it (1) is altruistic, (2) expresses a value judgement, and (3) is literally non-falsifiable. Conservation is not widely practised because (1) its altruism, being non-Darwinian, will not be performed spontaneously, (2) there is a mistaken attempt to consider phenomena absolutely rather than recognise the value-driven and theory-laden nature of all human activities, (3) its ethic, if taken literally, cannot be written operationally, and (4) there is a dependence on poorly-falsifiable ecological theories (e.g. neo-Clementsianism). Proposed remedies are to (1) define our ultimate frames of reference, (2) enthuse the public of the chosen core-values, (3) develop operational conservation goals, (4) assess the degree of goal-attainment, (5) try to correct departures, and (6) align individual and societal interests by manipulating market-forces.

Keywords: altruism; conservation; Conservation implementation; Conservation properties; human activity; Human values; philosophy; Range resources; rangeland; Rangelands; Science philosophy

Journal of the Grassland Society of Southern Africa.

AJOL African Journals Online