Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: March 10, 2010
Publication Date: July 1, 2010
Citation: Tomer, M.D. 2010. How Do We Identify Opportunities to Apply New Knowledge and Improve Conservation Effectiveness? Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 65(4):261-265. Technical Abstract: Current approaches to conservation planning have an established and successful track record. However, as our knowledge of resource sciences and goals for conservation expand, review and improvement of planning protocols could help improve conservation effectiveness, even though we may be satisfied with the status quo. This is easy to suggest, but we do not readily know how and when standard planning protocols can be adapted to incorporate new information. Resource conservation is a trans-disciplinary science involving multiple resources, contexts of landscape and time, and socio-cultural dynamics. Yet technology and human experience are progressing, and our capacity to become more site-specific in devising conservation systems and adapt practices to each situation is expanding. This editorial presents a conceptual model that may help frame debate over adoption of new technologies in conservation planning. The model is based on the system of knowledge that every conservation planner must consider in doing his/her job, which involves knowledge of natural resources, landscapes, temporal dynamics of weather and management, and socio-cultural constraints of the landowner. Research and testing of new approaches are advancing in all four arenas. It is argued that progress in landscape-specific planning and socio-cultural (community-feedback) approaches are the two areas where standard procedures lag the most. This coincidence might provide a way to enable local communities to become more involved in identifying conservation priorities in watersheds, and to adopt site-specific approaches that target locally identified resource concerns.