Psychobiogeography: meanings of nature and motivations for a democratized conservation ethic

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Abstract

The language of ecosystem science is pervaded by value-laden terms such as pristine, fragile, disturbance, balance, dominance and alien species. Such terms have high status and are often used in the rhetoric of the conservation ethic. Here, I consider the possibility of the use of less value-laden terms such as change, increase, decrease and so on. This would distinguish between values and perceived trends or states and leave ecosystem science to deal with what is verifiable. However, I also consider the opposite point of view, in that the value-laden terms, like ‘the balance of nature’, relate to how a wide range of people feel about nature and are effective emotive motivators of the conservation ethic in society, providing a common language for a discourse between ecosystem scientists and other people.

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