Win-Win Ecology: How the Earth's Species Can Survive in the Midst of Human Enterprise

Win-Win Ecology: How the Earth's Species Can Survive in the Midst of Human Enterprise

Win-Win Ecology: How the Earth's Species Can Survive in the Midst of Human Enterprise

Win-Win Ecology: How the Earth's Species Can Survive in the Midst of Human Enterprise


As humanity presses down inexorably on the natural world, people debate the extent to which we can save the Earth's millions of different species without sacrificing human economic welfare. But is this argument wise? Must the human and natural worlds be adversaries? In this book, ecologist Michael Rosenzweig finds that ecological science actually rejects such polarization. Instead it suggests that, to be successful, conservation must discover how we can blend a rich natural world into the world of economic activity. This revolutionary, common ground between development and conservation is called reconciliation ecology: creating and maintaining species-friendly habitats in the very places where people live, work, or play. The book offers many inspiring examples of the good results already achieved. The Nature Conservancy, for instance, has a cooperative agreement with the Department of Defense, with more than 200 conservation projects taking place on more than 170 bases in 41 states. In places such as Elgin Air Force Base, the human uses-testing munitions, profitable timbering and recreation--continue, but populations of several threatened species on the base, such as the long-leaf pine and the red-cockaded woodpecker, have been greatly improved. The Safe Harbor strategy of the Fish & Wildlife Service encourages private landowners to improve their property for endangered species, thus overcoming the unintended negative aspects of the Endangered Species Act. And Golden Gate Park, which began as a system of sand dunes, has become, through human effort, a world of ponds and shrubs, waterfowl and trees. Rosenzweig shows that reconciliation ecology is the missing tool of conservation, the practical, scientifically based approach that, when added to the rest, will solve the problem of preserving Earth's species.


There is still time. There is good reason to believe that civilization need not destroy most of the Earth's nonhuman species. the trick is to learn how to share our spaces with other species. If we do so, we won't find ourselves bereft of our plant and animal cousins and hoping for a visit from extraterrestrials to keep us company.

Sharing our habitats deliberately with other species. I call this “reconciliation ecology.” the evidence cries out for us to do a lot more of it, and that doing a lot more of it can save most of the world's species. This book will explore that evidence.

The book will also describe many examples of reconciliation ecology, stories of people who have designed habitats for themselves or for their enterprises, and then find out that wild things also use these habitats successfully. Sometimes the sharing is accidental, sometimes quite purposeful. But sharing works. and it is very cheap.

Despite its title, the book may displease some of those who are devoted to “green” causes. They may not trust my claim that we need to end the battle between ecology and economics. But this is a book of science, not theology and not politics. and the claim comes straight from the ecological science of diversity. the science is very clear, and those who care about wild species can do them no better favor than to be guided by it.

Nevertheless, this book is not a signal for environmentalists to surrender their cause to those human beings whose job it is to exploit the Earth. I want our developers, fishers, farmers, ranchers, and tree growers to realize that I am not only calling for environmental peace and cooperation, but also for a radical change in the way they treat the land and waters of this planet. I am not asking them to stop earning a living or making a profit. People and their enterprises will not be denied, and need not be denied. But we can avoid a mass extinction of Earth's species without ourselves committing mass suicide.

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