Endangered species management in New Zealand : care or control?
A central concern involved in attempts to manage the natural world is a philosophical debate over the nature of our understanding of it. Central to this debate is the reality of the natural world as 'described' by science and its reality as 'revealed' within the social sciences, particularly in postmodern thought, as being, at least in part, a linguistic construction. The scientific epistemology based on the 'description' of a separate reality is deconstructed by postmodern thought as an ideology that is itself implicated in environmental destruction. In addition, it is understood to involve an appropriation of consciousness and its alignment with an order of material and mathematical understanding. This ability to stand apart and know the world allows the management of nature. As such, endangered species such as the Kakapo (Strigops.habroptilus) are placed under management regimes in order to reduce the likely hood of their extinction. However, some postmodern thought, through an over emphasis on reality’s linguistic construction, also leaves nature open to arrangement in order to meet socially projected understandings of it. In both of these positions nature loses its autonomy, and standing as an essential counterpoint to society. This in turn highlights the concern of whether conservation should include a controlling interaction with nature or whether the preservation of wildness, that constitutes nature as contingent and autonomous, is a more important relation. The South Island Kokako (Callaeas.cinerea.cinerea), itself an endangered species (and possibly now even extinct), through its elusive nature and ability to evade capture, sits as a symbol for all that is ineffable and mysterious in nature. This recognition of the ineffable is implicit in ecological understandings that highlight interconnectedness and indeed human immersion in larger processes. Such immersion in the world places limitations on a normative identification of nature. I argue that from the recognition of the ineffable comes respect, as such, the ineffable acts as the basis of an ethical relation with the natural world. Such a recognition comes from first hand interaction that is emphasised in this phenomenological based analysis. This highlights the importance of individual experience of nature as being vital to developing an ethical relation. Such ongoing experience also feeds into culture through stories that in turn act to adapt tradition. A concern for the experiential is highlighted in ritual activities. These activities attempt to address our relation with the natural world and our place in it that does not involve its manipulation, but resolves from treating nature as essentially mysterious. This is in contrast to the experience based in restorative approaches that aim at manipulation to meet human requirements. In consideration of the foregoing I attempt to trace the manner in which conservation fieldworkers understand their management practices and the philosophical understandings put forward by them in order to justify these practices. This includes the significance of their experiences of the natural world and the stories and ideologies of control that impinge upon their understandings. In conclusion I argue that the present praxis based preservationist tradition downplays the importance of experience, and of wildness as an essential aspect of the natural world, although these are in part recognised by my informants. Rather, it is a normative ordering that is based mostly on a scientific narrative and metaphysic that in turn risks being seperationist and colonising.... [Show full abstract]