Conservation: When should we compromise?

A very close friend of mine is involved in developing a book about a particular animal. This animal is being considered as and Endangered Species, and my friend’s job is to create a book aimed at land owners that will inform them about this species and how they can help protect it. If they protect the species, there is a possibility that it will never get placed on the endangered species list and thus, these landowners will not have to incur any restrictions on their land, where this species resides. In essence, protecting the species is a win-win for everyone.

The problem is, there are certain truths supported by research that are not supported by the land owners. Livestock grazing, if not done properly, has been found to degrade habitat for this species. However, this group of land owners relies on livestock grazing for their livelihood, and so representatives from this group are speaking out so that nothing about grazing is included in this book. While my friend knows what the research says, he asks himself two questions: a) What will happen if I alienate this group of land owners?  and b) These land owners have been working on the land first-hand for years. What if they know more than isolated research?

I freelance for an organization that helps land owners receive benefits in exchange for protecting and conserving critically endangered wildlife, flora and their habitat. I have seen that working together is often one of the most beneficial solutions to environmental problems and that land owners are the best stewards of their own land. This is one solution to solving a big and complex problem and it benefits everyone involved.

How do we draw the line between compromising for the sake of not offending a group of people versus doing what we believe is right? How do we balance the different interest groups that are involved in any type of decision making on anything in society that is worth debating? How do we really know what’s right? Is it appropriate to take an occasional loss in what we think is right to gain a strategic alliance with a group that may help us in the future?

I suppose the correct answer to these questions will vary from person to person, but from watching my friend’s struggle with this issue I suppose it is sometimes OK to create an alliance with a group of people, taking a small loss, but in the end possibly attaining a milestone in success. The hard thing is choosing your battles. In some cases, it would be wrong to compromise–it may go against your morals. In this case, you should not compromise. You must fight. But I think the most important thing that I have picked up from my friend’s situation, is you must respect others and you must always remember, if you are planning to burn a bridge you better not plan on crossing that bridge again later.

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4 responses to “Conservation: When should we compromise?

  1. The situation in your example isn’t a question of offending people; it’s a question of utterly alienating them by attacking their livelihood and that of their families. It’s a bit different.

    Example: If I were a rancher an the book was published and included grazing in it, I’d at least consider exterminating all the members of the species in question on my land before they were classed as endangered in order to protect my family.

    It would suck to have to do so, but family comes first.

  2. … land owners are the best stewards of their own land.

    This is because they are often worried about the productive capacity of their land, and not worried about the land for the land’s own sake. Maybe I’m wrong to make this generalization, but I don’t think so.

    Why should we have to compromise? The “owners” of industrialized nation-states will literally do whatever it takes to continue the lifestyle they’ve accustomed themselves to, including eliminating all threats to their way of life (even President Obama has gone on record as saying “we” will not apologize for the American Way of Life). Why should those that oppose them continue to let them have their way?

  3. I think my point was mistaken. Does it really matter WHY a land owner helps conserve land as long as they do so? If groups can work WITH land owners to find a mutual solution to a problem that benefits both parties, isn’t that the best option?

  4. Seems like the better solution to me at least. Tonyisnt’s views, if acted upon, would only cause greater havoc and I believe for the reasons I stated above.

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