Advertisement

Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 9, pp 2559–2573 | Cite as

The application of environmental ethics in biological conservation: a case study from the southernmost tip of the Americas

  • Sylvia HaiderEmail author
  • Kurt Jax
Original Paper

Abstract

Biological conservation is not only about facts and technical measures concerning ecology, rather it must also consider values. This pertains to both the balancing of various human interests and also to the ethical evaluation of human actions towards nature. Here we discuss how environmental ethics can be incorporated into conservation decisions, and what implications the inclusion of ethical valuation has for the practice of conservation biology. While this is done mostly on a rather abstract level, we illustrate this here by applying ethical theory to a case study: the options for management of the introduced North American beaver (Castor canadensis) in the very south of Chile (Navarino Island). The beaver is an exotic species to the area and has substantially altered the ecological systems of the region. We discuss different options for dealing with the beaver (eradicate, control, tolerate, promote) from the viewpoint of anthropocentric environmental ethics and biocentric ethics. The results of our analysis demonstrate the value of ethical discussions in clarifying and underpinning arguments for and against specific actions. At the same time, they also show that ethical arguments do not decrease the need for sound scientific data but, on the contrary, may even increase this demand. We also highlight that the conclusions regarding adequate actions to be taken vary depending on the specific ethical theory embraced.

Keywords

Beaver Cape Horn Archipelago Chile Conservation conflicts Conservation ethics Environmental ethics Evaluation Invasive species 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful for the support of many colleagues from the Omora Foundation, Puerto Williams, Chile, in particular Christopher B. Anderson, Ricardo Rozzi and Francisca Massardo. Thanks also to Uta Berghöfer and Elke Schüttler (both Leipzig) for providing access to unpublished interview data from their ongoing studies. Martin Gorke, Greifswald, and Christopher B. Anderson read earlier versions of the manuscript and provided many helpful comments as did two anonymous reviewers. Travel support to Sylvia Haider was provided by the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD). The study was also supported by and connected to the project “Evaluation of biological diversity under the perspective of the Ecosystem Approach of the Convention on Biological Diversity, on the basis of the case study of the island Navarino” (BIOKONCHIL), funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), FKZ 01LM0208.

References

  1. Anderson CB, Griffith CR, Rosemond AD, Rozzi R, Dollenz O (2006) The effects of invasive North American beavers on riparian plan communities in Cape Horn, Chile. Do exotic beavers engineer differently in sub-Antarctic ecosystems? Biol Conserv 128:467–474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Attfield R (1983) The ethics of environmental concern. Basil Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  3. Baker E, Richardson M (1999) Ethics and the environment. In: Baker E, Richardson M (eds) Ethics applied. Simon & Schuster, New York, pp 407–437Google Scholar
  4. D’Eon RG, Lapointe R, Bosnick N, Davies C, MacLean B, Watt WR, Wilson RG (1995) The Beaver handbook: a guide to understanding and coping with beaver activity. Northeast Science & Technology, Ontario, CanadaGoogle Scholar
  5. Des Jardins JR (1997) Environmental ethics. An introduction to environmental philosophy. Wadsworth Publishing Company, Belmont, CAGoogle Scholar
  6. Eser U, Potthast T (1999) Naturschutzethik: Eine Einführung für die Praxis. Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, Baden-BadenGoogle Scholar
  7. Gorke M (2000) Die ethische Dimension des Artensterbens. In: Ott K, Gorke M (eds) Spektrum der Umweltethik. Metropolis, Marburg, pp 81–99Google Scholar
  8. Gorke M (2003) The death of our planet’s species. Island Press, Washington D.CGoogle Scholar
  9. Groom MJ, Meffe GK, Carroll CR (2005) Principles of conservation biology. Sinauer, Sunderland, MAGoogle Scholar
  10. Hampicke U (1993) Naturschutz and Ethik – Rückblick auf eine 20jährige Diskussion, 1973–1993, und politische Folgerungen. Ökol Natur 2:73–86Google Scholar
  11. Hampicke U (1999) Zur Ethik in der Umwelt- und Landschaftsplanung – Die Naturschutzpraxis als Beispiel für einen ethisch fragwürdigen Umgang der Menschen miteinander. In: Weiland U (ed) Perspektiven der Raum- und Umweltplanung angesichts Globalisierung, Europäischer Integration und Nachhaltiger Entwicklung. Festschrift für Karl-Herrman Hübler. VWF Verlag für Wissenschaft und Forschung, Berlin, pp 47–62Google Scholar
  12. Hargrove EC (1989) Foundations of environmental ethics. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJGoogle Scholar
  13. Holbrook D (1997) The consequentialistic side of environmental ethics. Environ Values 6:87–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jones CG, Lawton JH, Shachak M (1994) Organisms as ecosystem engineers. Oikos 69:373–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kant I (1990) Die Metaphysik der Sitten. Philipp Reclam jun., StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  16. Krebs A (1999) Ethics of nature: a map. de Gruyter, Berlin, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  17. Lizarralde M (1993) Current status of the introduced beaver (Castor canadensis) population in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Ambio 22:351–358Google Scholar
  18. Lizarralde M, Deferrari G, Alvarez S, Escobar J (1996) Effects of beaver (Castor canadensis) on the nutrient dynamics of the Southern Beech forest of Tierra del Fuego (Argentina). Ecol Austral 6:101–105Google Scholar
  19. Mack RN, Simberloff D, Lonsdale WM, Evans H, Clout M, Bazzaz FA (2000) Biotic invasions: causes, epidemiology, global consequences, and control. Ecol Appl 10:689–710CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Meffe GK, Carroll CR, Groom MJ (2005) What is conservation biology? In: Groom MJ, Meffe GK, Carroll CR (eds) Principles of conservation biology. Sinauer, Sunderland, MAGoogle Scholar
  21. Moore DM (1983) Flora of Tierra del Fuego. Anthony Nelson, England and Missouri Botanical Garden, USAGoogle Scholar
  22. Munasinghe M (1992) Biodiversity protection policy: environmental valuation and distribution issues. Ambio 21:227–236Google Scholar
  23. Naiman RJ, Johnston CA, Kelley JC (1988) Alteration of North American streams by beaver. BioScience 38:753–762CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Nash RF (1989) The rights of nature. A history of environmental ethics. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, WisconsinGoogle Scholar
  25. Norton B (1987) Why preserve natural variety? Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJGoogle Scholar
  26. Ott K (2000) Umweltethik – Einige vorläufige Positionsbestimmungen. In: Ott K, Gorke M (eds) Spektrum der Umweltethik. Metropolis-Verlag, Marburg, pp 13–39Google Scholar
  27. Pearce DW, Moran D (1997) The economic value of biodiversity. Earthscan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  28. Primack RB (2006) Essentials of conservation biology. Sinauer, Sunderland, MAGoogle Scholar
  29. Rosell F, Bozsér O, Collen P, Parker H (2005) Ecological impact of beavers Castor fiber and Castor canadensis and their ability to modify ecosystems. Mammal Rev 35:248–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rozzi R, Massardo F (2003) Antecedentes de biodiversidad y sitios prioritarios en la comuna Cabo de Hornos. Recopilación de información sobre los Ecosistemas Subantárticos en Apoyo a la Estrategia Nacional y Plan de Acción para la iodiversidad (ENPAB). Universidad de Magallanes – Fundación Omora, Punta ArenasGoogle Scholar
  31. Rozzi R, Massardo F, Anderson CB (eds) (2004) The Cape Horn biosphere reserve. A proposal of conservation and tourism to achieve sustainable development at the southern end of the Americas. Ediciones de la Universidad de Magallanes, Punta ArenasGoogle Scholar
  32. Sagoff M (2000) Environmental economics and the conflation of value and benefit. Environ Sci Technol 34:1426–1432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schweitzer A (1990) Kultur and Ethik. Beck, München. Reprint of the first edition from 1923Google Scholar
  34. Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero (2003) Programa Control de Fauna Dañinas en la XII Región. Punta ArenasGoogle Scholar
  35. Sielfeld W, Venegas C (1980) Poblamiento e impacto ambiental de Castor canadensis Kuhl, en Isla Navarino, Chile. Anal Inst Patagonia 11:247–257Google Scholar
  36. Skewes O, González F, Rubilar L, Quezada M, Olave R, Vargas V, Avila A (1999) Investigación, aprovechamiento y control del Castor en Islas Tierra del Fuego y Navarino. Final Report. Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero, XII Region, Punta ArenasGoogle Scholar
  37. Taylor PW (1981) The ethics of respect for nature. Environ Ethics 3:197–218Google Scholar
  38. Taylor PW (1989) Respect for nature: a theory of environmental ethics. Princeton University Press, Princeton Google Scholar
  39. Van Dyke F (2003) Conservation biology: foundations, concepts, applications. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  40. Wright JP, Jones CG (2004) Predicting effects of ecosystem engineers on patch-scale species richness from primary productivity. Ecology 85(8):2071–2081CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wright JP, Jones CG, Flecker AS (2002) An ecosystem engineer, the beaver, increases species richness at the landscape scale. Oecologia 132:96–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wright JP, Gurney WS, Jones CG (2004) Patch dynamics in a landscape modified by ecosystem engineers. Oikos 105:336–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chair of Landscape EcologyTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany
  2. 2.Department of Conservation BiologyUFZ Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-HalleLeipzigGermany

Personalised recommendations