Naturalness in Biodiversity Management

Abstract

Decline of biodiversity—richness, variety and variability of living beings—is an issue of concern world wide. Nevertheless, not all biological diversity is valued by conservation biologists. Most of them reject an idea of creation of so called A-areas—i.e. maximally rich and diverse biotic areas which have been produced by methods like genetic engineering and species introduction. Reasons for this are considered. A-areas are artefacts: their existence has been intentionally brought about by intentionally modifying their properties in order to produce an entity of their type. Nevertheless, since some restored ecosystems are equally artifacts and still valued over A-areas in biodiversity management, artifactuality cannot alone explain the low value of the A-areas. The essential difference between A-areas and restored ecosystems is in naturalness of their properties. By contrast with the properties of A-areas, the properties of any restored ecosystem are similar to the properties of some ecosystems that have originated through evolutionary processes. I conclude that biodiversity management decisions are based on multiple and different conceptions of natural, unnatural and artificial. The most desired alternatives are natural in all senses of the terms. Because of limits set by the real world, conservation biologists sometimes have to settle for second best alternatives that are unnatural in some sense of the term, but not in all or many of them

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