Theories about Consensus-Based Conservation
Conservation Biology, Vol. 20, No. 2, 573–575, April 2006
William D. Leach, Research Director, Center for Collaborative Policy,
California State University, Sacramento, 815 S Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
Abstract. “Conservation and the Myth of Consensus” (Peterson et al. 2005) levels several serious indictments against consensus-based approaches to environmental decision making. Namely, the authors argue that consensus processes (1) reinforce apathy and ignorance of conservation issues; (2) legitimize damage to the environment; (3) quash public debate about conservation; (4) solidify the existing balance of power in favor of predevelopment forces; and (5) block progress toward an ecologically sustainable future. Careful scrutiny of consensus-based approaches is important, especially considering their surging use in conservation policy. In the spirit of advancing the debate further, I review some of the limitations of the essay and its modes of inquiry.
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