Restoring Lands - Coordinating Science, Politics and Action
Complexities of Climate and Governance
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About the author
Herman Karl is a U.S. Geological Survey Research Scientist and Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning; he co-directs the MIT-USGS Science Impact Collaborative (MUSIC). During his thirty-year career at USGS, Dr. Karl has developed and led many projects to collect scientific information to inform policy decisions. He was a chief scientist of the EEZ-Scan project. EEZ-Scan project teams mapped the entire U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone and provided data in planning for environmental and resource management of this zone. He received the U.S. Department of the Interior Superior Service Award for his leadership of the EEZ-Scan project. He initiated and led the Gulf of the Farallones project, which conducted research on the effects of radioactive waste dumped off the San Francisco Bay area. The book summarizing this research won the Association of Earth Science Editors Award for Outstanding Publication of 2003 and two other national awards. His work was used in testimony to Congress. Dr. Karl was one of several chief scientists directing research gathering information on DDT-contaminated sediment offshore the southern California coast. This research was in support of the Montrose Case, the single largest environmental lawsuit at the time. Dr. Karl was one of the government expert witnesses in this case; the government won the lawsuit. For several years, he was part of the instructor core in the U.S. Bureau of Land Management Community Based Ecosystem Steward course. The course was given at the request of land managers at sites of some of the most contentious environmental issues in the Nation, such as the spotted owl/timber harvest controversy. USGS located Dr. Karl at MIT to continue to develop ways to more effectively utilize science to inform policy. Before coming to MIT, he was Chief Scientist of the USGS Western Geographic Science Center.
In the late 19th century, the Progressive Era laid the foundations for "scientific management" of lands and natural resources. Yet scientific management, often lauded in concept, is elusive. Land and resource management occurs in a social, economic, and political context in which different values, priorities, and interests influence goals, funding, and management choices. Complexities and uncertainties abound. At least three decades ago, critics of these decision processes began arguing that the complexities of managing natural systems required an interdisciplinary approach. Most books on scientific and political management of natural resources and lands are either theoretical academic tomes, a compendium of case studies, or handbooks. Despite this vast literature, land managers struggle to effectively restore and sustain lands amid conflict, controversy, and sometimes weak application of science to decisions. Though some notable conservation successes exist, in many places land health continues to deteriorate through mismanagement, neglect, and land transformation for development, agriculture, energy production, and other uses. This book examines decision making processes, the intersection of science and policy, and practical examples of how, where, and why successful conservation, restoration, and land management are occurring.The text consists of three sections— Science, Technology, and Engineering; Politics and Policy; and People and Action. The Introduction lays out the premise of the book (harmonizing science, politics, and people to take action to restore and sustains lands given the complications of governance and climate change) and puts each chapter in context. The Synthesis is the linchpin chapter. It synthesizes the concepts put forth in each chapter into a plan of action to restore and sustain lands. It makes recommendations how this plan can be tested through action research. The plan will be dynamic; that is it will be designed to adapt to changing circumstances so that action can be taken quickly.
; February 2012
535 pages; ISBN 9789400725492Read online
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Title: Restoring Lands - Coordinating Science, Politics and Action
Author: Herman Karl; Lynn Scarlett; Juan Carlos Vargas-Moreno; Michael Flaxman