Conservation: The Aesthetics of Time and Taxonomy

Conservation: The Aesthetics of Time and Taxonomy

Human conception of time changes between societies. How does our time aesthetic vary and interplay with global/local conservation agendas? –Deciding what biota we consider endemic/native is where conservation biology and societal aesthetics surrounding time and taxonomy abut. These aesthetics are affected by shifting definitions and value systems; many can be seen as artifacts of fairly recent Western conceptualisations of time and structural organisation. How has this influenced our actions at multiple levels of science, from primary research to applied conservation initiatives? How has a pervasive aesthetic for hierarchical order and progress led to the paradigms of ecological succession and climax steady states in nature -and often misdirected our conceptualisation of ecology and our resulting conservation ethos and activity?

  • potential collaborators include within the Natural History Network; History/Philosophy Dept, Univ. New South Wales; Depts of Philosophy and Classics, University of Otago.

Cultural Perspectives on Conservation

A focus of this project is centred on the tricky but timely subject of how cultural variation in biodiversity value systems must be incorporated into mainstream conservation agendas. (See my collaborative work on Cultural Aspects of Biodiversity Management.) Kiore have been the focus of intense eradication initiatives by the Dept of Conservation. Now DoC and Ngati Wai are teaming up to make a sanctuary for the Pacific rat on Maui Taha -part of the Hen and Chicken Islands that are also sanctuaries to endangered natives such as the tuatara. Rational for the conservation effort lies in the cultural significance of kiore to Maori and the historical parallel of their migration movements throughout the Pacific. (Much remains uncertain about the paths of human movement in the Pacific and the animal and plant cohorts which accompanied humans provide valuable clues.)

  • Potential collaborators could include Henrik Moller CSAFE U Otago; Hori Parata; Lisa Matisoo-Smith, U Otago Biological Anthropology