Valuing Biocultural Conservation: Can ecological economics assist cross-cultural partnership for environmental management?



TIME | 17 November 2011, 4pm onwards

LOCATION | CSAFE Seminar Room, , Dunedin



Ecological economic valuation tools have the potential to identify cross-cultural differences and common purpose through which strategies for improved partnership and accelerated conservation might emerge. We investigated the values assigned by 26 conservation managers, community members, and kaitiaki (Māori environmental guardians) to prospective ecological restoration of coastal forests in northern Aotearoa New Zealand. Kaitiaki primarily emphasised the importance of ‘Cultural Stewardship –Kaitiakitanga’ in the restoration process, yet this was not valued by the non-Māori research participants. Otherwise, all stakeholders shared common purpose and enthusiasm for six inter-related value sets, which we labelled: (i) Cultural Stewardship – Kaitiakitanga, (ii) Use – Ahi kaa roa, (iii) Personal Engagement – Whakamana, (iv) Connection – Whanaungatanga, (v) Knowledge & Wisdom – Mātauranga & Māramatanga, and (vi) Ecological Integrity – Mauri. Therefore, cultures in our case study had much in common and shared a passion for ecological restoration, even though they differed sharply on how the process of restoration should best unfold. Many of the values assigned to ecological restoration by indigenous cultures are subtle, complex, intangible, and inter-related. This will make it very difficult to quantify cross-cultural differences in values, which is a necessary first step before ecological economic choice models can safely assist partnership and environmental co-management. Choice modelling and calculation of Production Possibility Functions (PPFs) are proposed as the most promising (yet still problematical) way to quantify the values assigned to ecological restoration by kaitiaki, community groups, and conservation managers. 

About the Speakers

Hilary Phipps has recently submitted her PhD through the School of Environment at The University of Auckland, and has a particular interest in the diversity of values which underpin, motivate and guide people’s active involvement in their environment. Ashli Akins spreads her time between Dunedin (NZ), Oxford (England), Ollantaytambo (Peru), and Victoria (Canada). She is currently a graduate student in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford, and is the founding director of two NGOs that promote educational and cultural rights for marginalized indigenous communities of the Andean Mountains. Henrik Moller is an ecologist gone bad: he started professional life as an applied population biologist but has become much more interested in people and their relationships with land, plants, and animals. Phil Lyver is a Māori ecologist with Landcare Research, Lincoln where he leads several projects which address forest and marine avian ecosystem dynamics and indigenous governance of contested protected areas. Viktoria Kahui is a natural resource economist at the University of Otago who is passionate about bridging the gap between the conflicting objectives of conservation and commercialisation in resource management David Towns is a research scientist with the Department of Conservation where he leads projects aimed at measuring the effectiveness of the restoration of island ecosystems.


Collaborators on this research are Hilary Phipps, David Towns, Viktoria Kahui, and Phil Lyver.  

This seminar is part of CSAFE’s Te Hao Mātauranga seminar series.



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