Restoring and Sustaining Lands—Coordinating Science, Politics, and Community for Action

  • Herman A. KarlEmail author
  • Lynn Scarlett
  • Juan Carlos Vargas-Moreno
  • Michael Flaxman


We propose that a new conceptual framework is needed for conservation and land restoration to achieve sustainability. We present two conceptual models—Static Productive Harmony and Dynamic Productive Harmony—for formulating environmental policy and making natural resource management decisions. The static model seeks a balance among ecological, social, and economic systems through compromises that require trade-offs that often end up satisfying no one. The dynamic model represents a fundamentally different approach to restoring and sustaining lands. In this model, healthy ecosystems are the foundation for thriving communities and dynamic economies. The dynamic model aims to generate resource management approaches that add value to each of the systems for a mutual gains outcome. Restoring and sustaining lands is a wicked problem. New institutions need to be shaped that support ongoing collaborative and participatory processes to achieve durable and equitable environmental policy.


Ecosystem health land restoration collaboration land ethic wicked problems trust relationships productive harmony 


  1. Adler PS, Birkhoff JE (2002) Building trust: when knowledge from “Here” meets knowledge from “Away”, The National Policy Consensus Center, Portland. Accessed 2003
  2. Andrews CJ (2002) Humble analysis: the practice of joint fact-finding. Praeger, Westport/Connecticut/London, 200 pGoogle Scholar
  3. Argyris C, Schon D (1978) Organizational learning: a theory of action perspective. Addison-Wesley, ReadingGoogle Scholar
  4. Berkes F, Colding J, Folke C (2003) Navigating social-ecological systems. Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom, 393 pGoogle Scholar
  5. Brown VA, Harris JA, Russell JY (2010) Tackling wicked problems through the interdisciplinary imagination. Earthscan, Washington, DC/London, 312 pGoogle Scholar
  6. Brunner RD, Steelman TA, Coe-Juell L, Cromley CM, Edwards CM, Tucker DW (2005) Adaptive governance, integrating science, policy, and decision making. Columbia University Press, New York, 319 pGoogle Scholar
  7. Bryant TA (2004) Tragedy averted: the promise of collaboration. Soc Nat Resour 17:881–896CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. National Research Council (1996) Understanding risk: informing decisions in a democratic ­society. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 249 pGoogle Scholar
  9. National Research Council (2008) Public participation in environmental assessment and decision making. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 305 pGoogle Scholar
  10. Folke C, Pritchard L Jr, Berkes F, Colding J, Svedin U (1998) The problem of fit between ecosystems and institutions, International human dimensions programme on global environmental change, working paper no. 2. Accessed 2003
  11. Groat C (2005) Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans: “I told you so” is not enough. EOS, Trans Amer Geophys Union 86(38):341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gunderson LS, Holling CS (eds) (2002) Panarchy: understanding transformations in human and natural systems. Island Press, Washington, DC/Covelo/London, 507 pGoogle Scholar
  13. Gunderson LH, Pritchard L Jr (eds) (2002) Resilience and the behavior of large-scale systems. Island Press, Washington, DC/Covelo/London, 287 pGoogle Scholar
  14. Gunderson L, Holling CS, Light SL (eds) (1995) Barriers and bridges to the renewal of ecosystems and institutions. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. Holling CS (1973) Resilience and stability of ecological systems. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 4:1–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Holling CS (1978) Adaptive environmental assessment. Wiley, Chichester, 377 pGoogle Scholar
  17. Ison R, Collins K (2008) Public policy that does the right thing rather than the wrong thing righter. In: Analyzing collaborative and deliberative forms of governance, one-day workshop, Deliberative Democracy Group & The Crawford School of Economics & Government, The Australia National University, Canberra, 14 Nov 2008Google Scholar
  18. Issacs W (1999) Dialogue: and the art of thinking together. Currency, New York/London/Toronto/Sydney/Auckland, 428 pGoogle Scholar
  19. Kania J, Kramer M (2011) Collective impact. Stanf Soc Innov Rev Winter 2011:36–41Google Scholar
  20. Karl HA, Susskind LE, Wallace KH (2007) A dialogue, not a diatribe—effective integration of science and policy through joint fact finding. Environment 49(1):20–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Koontz TM, Steelman TA, Carmin J, Korfmacher KS, Moseley C, Thomas CW (2004) Collaborative environmental management: what roles for government? Resources For the Future, Washington, DC, 210 pGoogle Scholar
  22. Layzer JA (2006) The environmental case: translating values into policy, 2nd edn. CQ Press, Washington, DC, 527 pGoogle Scholar
  23. Lehrer J (2010) The truth wears off. The New Yorker, 13 Dec 2010, pp 52–57Google Scholar
  24. Leopold A (1949) A Sand County almanac and sketches here and there with an introduction by Robert Finch (1987). Oxford University Press, Oxford/New York/Toronto, 228 pGoogle Scholar
  25. Liu J, Dietz T, Carpenter SR, Alberti M, Folke C, Moran E, Pell AN, Deadman P, Kratz T, Lubchenco J, Ostrom E, Ouyang Z, Provencher W, Redman CL, Schneider SH, Taylor WW (2007) Complexity of coupled human and natural systems. Science 317(5844):1513–1516CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McKinney M, Harmon W (2004) The western confluence: a guide to governing natural resources. Island Press, Washington, DC/Covelo/London, 297 pGoogle Scholar
  27. Meine C (1988) Aldo Leopold: his life and work. The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 638 pGoogle Scholar
  28. Miller A (1999) Environmental problem solving: psychosocial barriers to adaptive change. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. Morris E (2010) Colonel Roosevelt. Random House, New York, 766 pGoogle Scholar
  30. Rittel H, Webber M (1973) Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Pol Sci 4:155–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sayre RF (ed) (1985) Thoreau: a week on the Concord and Merrimack rivers, Walden, the Maine woods, Cape Cod. The Library of America, New York, 1113 pGoogle Scholar
  32. Susskind L, Field P (1996) Dealing with an angry public: the mutual gains approach to resolving disputes. The Free Press, New York, 276 pGoogle Scholar
  33. Susskind L, McKearman S, Thomas-Larmer J (eds) (1999) The consensus building handbook. Sage, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  34. Thornburgh N (2005) Unsafe harbor. Time, 10 Oct 2005, pp 32–37Google Scholar
  35. U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Strategic plan FY 2003–2008. Accessed March 2004
  36. Walters C (1986) Adaptive management of renewable resources. The Blackburn Press, Cardwell, 374 pGoogle Scholar
  37. Wilson EO (1998) Consilience—the unity of knowledge. Alfred A Knopf, New York, 332 pGoogle Scholar
  38. Wondolleck JM, Yaffee SL (2000) Making collaboration work, lessons from innovation in natural resource management. Island Press, Washington, DC/Covelo, 277Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Herman A. Karl
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lynn Scarlett
    • 2
  • Juan Carlos Vargas-Moreno
    • 3
  • Michael Flaxman
    • 3
  1. 1.University of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Resources for the FutureWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations