Natural Resource Management: Workshops

Applying Cultural Evolutionary Science to Processes and Institutions on Natural Resource Management and Conservation

How can we try to change the conversation around and within Natural Resource Management?

Researchers, policy-makers, and stakeholders are joining forces in Applied Working Groups (AWGs) to apply cultural evolution research to societal problems. The grant management team is actively involved in these workshops, gathering insights for the upcoming Capstone Conference at Durham University (UK) on 12th-13th September 2024.

The Natural Resource Management AWG has so far held two online workshops, bringing together experts in cultural evolution, ecological science, and natural resource management from Government agencies, Universities, and NGOs around the globe. Participants discussed how an understanding of culture change using a cultural evolutionary framework can inform sustainable approaches to natural resource management (NRM).

The first workshop, in March, included introductory talks on cultural evolution and NRM to provide a basis for productive discussion. Co-investigators of the AWG introduced a set of case studies to demonstrate the practical application of cultural evolution theory to NRM. These case studies focus on:

  1. Cultures of Governance: Demonstrating how cultural histories and dynamics within environmental governance institutions manifest across varying contexts, highlighting the relevance of addressing ongoing legacies of colonialism and pertinent management actions. (Project Leads: Jonathan Fisk & Kirsten Leong, NOAA)
  2. Cultural Values Toward Introduced Wildlife: Investigating (1) cultural categorizations of species as “native” versus introduced or invasive, (2) links with justification for protection or lethal control, and (3) associations with perceptions of species as “pests”, with attention toward changes in cultural values over time and management implications. (Project Lead: Lily van Eeden, State Gov. of Victoria, Australia)
  3. Adapting Adaptive Harvest Management: Examining the history of the decision-making framework for managing waterfowl populations across North America, how the framework can be made more resilient and adaptive to changes in global climate and cultural values regarding wildlife, and envisioning how the system could be transformed to be more inclusive and integrative through intentional change. (Project Leads: Scott Boomer, USFWS; Richard Berl, USGS)

Dedicated case study teams have since been hard at work advancing these projects and reported progress at the second online workshop in June, which provided further opportunities for advancing collaborative work around them. There will be a final workshop in September, held at Colorado State University, where projects will be finalized, outcomes shared, and plans made to communicate results broadly.

Through collaboration and the application of cultural evolution research across a variety of conservation issues, this AWG is forging an integrative and inclusive approach to drive sustainable natural resource management in a changing future. By embracing a diversity of cultural views, values, and relationships with nature, the AWG is making strides in preserving our shared environment effectively and equitably for future generations.

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