This past week as we were really starting to work on strategy for Lights Out Indy (LOI), I began to wonder why some conservations efforts succeed while others flounder and eventually fail. For the longest time, I always thought that conservation was a pretty simple thing. You know, recycle, reduce, reuse, how difficult is that? However conservation of animals and habitats has always seemed like something out of my control. I have never hunted or killed an animal purposefully or turned a forest into a farm. I felt like I was doing my part and if others did theirs we shouldn’t have a problem. So why have so many conservation acts failed (see Guatemalan Forests and Klamath River salmon kill)? And what was different for the ones that succeeded, such as American bald eagle conservation?
Elinor Ostrom, a political scientist from Indiana University, in a recent article has attempted to build a “framework” that will help conservation acts to be more effective. She points out that conservation acts often fail because they are too inflexible and rigid. They seem to forget about the local culture and local beliefs. She believes some of the conservationists hold to strict to a blueprint that they developed or emulated from other locations. Dr. Ostrom’s “framework” has a tier system that includes policymakers as well as the common person.
I definitely agree with the points that Dr. Ostrom presents and believe that they are important for LOI to consider. At the present time, I don’t believe that it is a goal of LOI to change policy in Indy, it is important that we engage and educate people in the local area. This is one aspect where citizen science could be extremely useful. Hopefully, if people can get away from the feelings I used to have, they will be more willing to attempt to change the world around them and citizen science it a great way to get the average person involved. Especially working in the Public group for our class, I want to look into ways to incorporate citizen science into our plan and strategy. The execution of getting people involved is extremely important to the success of this program.