Disclaimer: the post below is not directed specifically at @brendavr but at a much much broader conversation, so please don’t take it as directed towards you.
i am continually and increasingly feeling bothered by the idea that ‘only the land manager needs’… access to spatial biodiversity data for non-collection-risk species. And for context i’ve worked as a land manager or more frequently as the person taking the data that land managers use. Land managers are awesome but frequently overworked and buried in immediate tasks like literal putting out fires, fixing fences, saving injured park visitors, etc etc. The bottom line is, over most of non-colonial human history, being a part of and fully understanding ecosystems was a right, a privilege, and a responsibility for ALL humans. One could argue that obscuring the data a little bit doesn’t matter, and maybe that is true. But i fundamentally think the reasoning behind it is flawed and actually harmful. That isn’t to attack anyone saying this stuff… it’s the predominant storyline behind conservation right now. But here’s the thing, and i know i’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating.
We. Are Losing. It’s a not too hidden secret in conservation that we are losing. We win battles, we do not win wars. The problem is, every victory is temporary and every defeat is permanent, or in the least takes thousands of years to repair itself. We don’t have thousands of years. The current ‘let the experts do it all’ mentality is toxic and rotting our relationship from the core. And i say this as someone who has worked inside that system for almost 20 years. Most of the system is crucial - data collecting, monitoring, andvocacy, and attempts at restoration. But this other part, that we have to hide data and hide nature from people… i firmly believe that is a huge part of WHY we are losing. And don’t kid yourself. We are losing badly. For every case where someone steps on too many flowers, over the hill there’s a 1000 acre development that ruined the habitat for ALL species there for the next 10,000 years.
Priorities are important, and yes there are absolutely areas where people should not go off trail. One needs to truly, humbly, and carefully educate themselves before doing… well, anything outside. But they can’t do that without data, information, even the conversation.
While there is a definite argument for us reducing our population over time, the idea ‘the human population is too large’ is also hugely problematic. In my mind, that’s at worst a symptom and at best, attached to some other very problematic issues. What is too large is the footprint of whatever you want to call the predominant global socioeconomic culture - colonial corporate feudalism, or whatever. I don’t have a good word for it really. But please remember that on many if not most landscapes, cultures have coexisted with and been a part of the ecology for millenia. While going off trail. If all 20 million people in LA (or heck even 1 percent of them) sat down to listen to some Chumash elders (or other local nations too), learned about these ancient management techniques, and found a little patch of land to heal (ideally something that already needs ‘restoration’… then we’ stop losing. We’d start slowly gaining ground again.
definitely not true in a lot of cases. I have had to basically throw away thousands of plant species occurrences because it was pre GIS and we don’t know the location precisely enoguh to use them because different ecosystem types need to be monitored and assessed differently.
yeah and go peek over the hill. yeah that one you never peek over. Go see the massive golf course and the roaring abyss of the suburbs (yes it actually makes an audable sound). Look at the factory farms, the expanses of untended land with invasive plants coating them, the brownfields with toxic soils And ask yourself, how many people who did that were told not to go off trail or be a part of their environment. How many of them just didn’t give a **** about the land and people who used to be there because they never learned to listen and look? And if you think place doesn’t matter, then i don’t even know what to say. Place matters the most. If you don’t know where things are on the land, you don’t know the story of the land at all.
how many deer do you have on your land? Any predators? are there now earthworms? how has the management regime changed since 1491?
and why do you think that is? Maybe because they get a lecture (not from you, but from whoever) the few times they go outside that they can’t touch anything, can’t explore, can’t be a part of the landscape. It’s a little bit of ‘wilderness’ in a postage stamp and they can’t touch it even to heal it. So what do they care? It’s just the ‘environment’. There’s no difference between the trillium and a muddy pit in the trail but that’s because no one showed them that they are part of what is going on with both.
please don’t unless there’s a specific resource issue. And please know that most of these places ARE your land. Your town, state, provincial and national parks ARE your land. Once the politicians see you realize that, management will change, fast.