Seeing (and Doing) Conservation Through Cultural Lenses

Peterson, R., Russell, D., West, P., & Brosius, J. (2008). Seeing (and Doing) Conservation Through Cultural Lenses. Environmental Management, 45(5), 5-18.

This paper discuses various vantage points created by various authors who have approached conservation through a “cultural lens.” The authors describe the concept of “conservation without borders.”  This means getting rid of the boundaries between different disciplines that we use to think about environmental management and looking at it from all perspectives. There needs to be attention drawn to both the impact that human communities have on the conservation of biodiversity and also the other way around. Sometimes the impacts that environmental management has on local communities can make it so the conservation processes are actually doing more harm than good.  In order to successfully conserve biodiversity it is necessary to think about the human and nonhuman, the natural and social sciences, social justice and ecological integrity at the same time. Most agree that cross-border conservation would be the most effective however, current initiatives are hindered by differences in values, perceptions and methodologies that are associated with each discipline. Authors claim that current processes and structures of neoliberalization, operating at local and global scales, are “…dramatically altering the conceptualization, use, and ownership of nature, presenting additional challenges for cross-border conservation.” Conservation conflicts are connected to the cultures they are affecting. Different actors in the conservation process  perceive, value and use the natural world in different ways so it is necessary to consider each of these ways when managing an environment. To conclude, the authors promote civil and constructive dialogue, collaboration, open-mindedness, humility and willingness to appreciate and employ the contributions each lens can offer to conservation.