PROJECT: This project focuses on a particular challenge to conservationists who attempt to consider the needs of snowy owls, coyotes, salmon, mangrove trees, pinion pines, wild orchids, etc. while also fulfilling human wants and desires.

Conservationists are managers of the planet’s resources. They attend to the future by making judicious use of the living and non-living environment in the present. Their considered manipulations cultivate species and perpetuate conditions that benefit humans while attempting to minimize environmental damage and resource depletion. Conservationists oversee communal air, land, and water resources.  They confront a bewildering array of competing interests. Agencies like The Bureau of Land Management in the US serve the needs of all citizens – hunters, farmers, picnickers, loggers, industrialists, owners of all-terrain vehicles, and so forth. As a result, they must negotiate such mutually exclusive interests as hunters who advocate restricting timber cutting, and loggers who are eager to promote it. The complexity of managing a conservation program is manifest in the diverse conservationist agendas of the artists in this section:

  • Dory conserves a way of life by maximizing its productivity
  • Fournier conserves reserves by utilizing weeds as food and medicine
  • Franceschini conserves energy-producing resources by enlisting algae
  • Harrisons conserve watershed systems by promoting multi-faceted interventions
  • Ji conserves resources by protesting squandering and polluting
  • HeHe conserves air quality by reducing contaminating practices
  • Lee conserves resources by utilzing a waste product
  • Mandiberg conserves energy by promoting frugality
  • Ngo conserves ecosystem functions by engineering methods to cycle wastes and produce energy
  • Potrc conserves urban resources by enabling individuals to attend to their own sanitation and energy production
  • Reyes conserves forests by decreasing the production of drugs
  • Saraceno conserves energy by harnessing the sun and wind power
  • Sherk conserves urban resources by establishing a productive farm
  • Starling conserves energy by demonstrating its inefficiencies
  • Strachan conserves energy by aligning with the power inherent in the sun and his body.
  • Tissue Culture & Art conserve resources needed to produce food by transforming the production of meat
  • Yeh conserves local resources by teaching individuals appropriate skills

READ TO LIFE! Any three artists in this section.

PROJECT: This project focuses on a particular challenge to conservationists who attempt to consider the needs of snowy owls, coyotes, salmon, mangrove trees, pinion pines, wild orchids, etc. while also fulfilling human wants and desires. It addresses invasive species which are non-native plants, fish, insects, and animals that lack the natural predators and diseases that restrict population growth in their native environments. Invasives affect the bioregions where they have been introduced because they out-compete native species for nutrients, light, space, water, food, etc. Common approaches for controlling these populations rely upon chemical applications (herbicides and pesticides); physical removal (trapping, burning, and flooding); biological control (introducing a predator or parasite); genetic control (releasing genetically modified sterile insects). None of these techniques reflects a conservationist’s commitment to maximizing utility. Conserving biodiversity in a region, therefore, might entail harvesting invasive species for fuel, or fiber, or food.

Invent a new use for one invasive species in your region. Convey this use by demonstrating it or illustrating its use visually. For example, transform the invasive plant into paper that you use to make a note pad. Or light a fire with the wood from an invasive tree to toast marshmallows. The class may choose to transform invasive species into food. In this instance, each student provides a recipe to include in a booklet entitled “A Regional Invasive Species Cookbook”.

RESEARCH / DISCUSSION: Daniel Simberloff, a distinguished ecologist who specializes in invasive species, identified a potential drawback inherent in the conservationist’s approach to managing invasive species. He warns, “Once an invasive species become commonly used, it may generate a market, and the existence of the market will lead to opposition to serious management. It may even lead to spreading it to new areas, for its market value.”1 In other words, creating a market might induce people to protect or actually cultivate the invasive species in regions that had previously been unaffected by them. Consider the pros and cons of conservation strategies with regard to invasive species.

RESEARCH / DISCUSSION: While invasive species provide the opportunity for conservationists to contend with an excessive proliferation of a species (too many), conservationists also address conditions of dwindling populations (too few). In fact, it was the death of the last wild passenger pigeon on Sept. 1, 1914 in the Cincinnati Zoo that served as a major impetus in establishing the conservation movement. The pigeon populations were exhausted because they were massacred and shipped by the boxcar-load to the eastern cities where they were marketed as game birds. How might conservationists have prevented the extinction of the passenger pigeon?