- Wayne Linklater

Dr Wayne Linklater is Professor and Chair of Department of Environmental Studies in the College of Social Science and Inter-disciplinary Studies at California State University in Sacramento. His research and teaching focus on human-dimensions ecology, wildlife biology, conservation and management, and considers the roles of science in society. He worked for 15 years in New Zealand and for 8 years in southern Africa before now.

A public-trust crisis for environmental science - Politecol

Sep 30, 2019

What happens when environmental science becomes politically partisan? We lose the publics’ trust. This appears to have happened in the USA. How do we regain it? I have some suggestions that are equally relevant to resolving environmental conflicts in NZ. The following article is re-posted from The Sacramento Bee or its PressReader and affiliates: It could have been written in NZ too about its environmental conflicts, like 1080 and freshwater, and the role of science and scientists.   The results are in. My colleagues and I are largely distrusted by the American public. The non-partisan PEW Research Center reports that only 35 percent of Americans think environmental scientists provide fair and accurate information. Worse, only 17 percent thought … Read More

Science to resolve environmental conflicts - Politecol

Apr 10, 2019

Conservation science is sometimes used to subjugate people’s environmental values and opinions. Some people say, for example, that they would rather that poisons, like 1080, were used less or not at all in their environment. For most people, those concerns come from genuinely held ethical and environmental values and beliefs. They place great importance in the humane treatment of animals and, understandably, distrust environmental toxins. They might prefer New Zealand to be cruelty or poison-free much more than predator free. But those values and aspirations have been dismissed by some as not supported, or even discredited, by “the science“. Those concerned about poison use are framed as being emotional, irrational and ignorant by those who claim to be “scientific” – factual, informed and objective. This framing is prejudicial, and not fair or accurate. Both sides of this debate … Read More

Science and environmental conflicts e.g., 1080 poison - Politecol

Dec 01, 2018

The responses to my recent article reveal that some in the conservation community, including scientists, policy-makers and managers, are having difficulty understanding the difference between facts and values. They appear also to be having trouble understanding how the distinction is an important guide to scientists when they advocate publicly for one side of an environmental conflict, like that currently being had over 1080 toxin-use, genetic engineering and RoundUp. Gareth Morgan doesn’t get it either. Perhaps the examples I used challenged readers values too much for them to read and think dispassionately about the issues I raised? I wondered, therefore, if a simpler, non-environmental example might help? Aren’t you cold? I woke up yesterday feeling cold. It wasn’t a windy or rainy day. The sun was out, but I was feeling cold, bone-deep cold. You might identify with me when … Read More

Remembering Peter Nelson’s advice – pest management for the 21st century - Politecol

Jun 14, 2018

Peter Nelson is remembered as a founder of modern, 21st Century, pest management in New Zealand. In 1993, reflecting on our nation’s failure to eradicate Australian brushtail possum, rabbits and deer, he wrote: “The aim of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is to reduce pest damage to tolerable levels by using a variety of techniques, and ultimately also to reduce pest populations to tolerable levels. This is very different from the traditional idea of eradication as practiced by many of the old Pest Destruction Boards. Their goal proved to be impossible, especially with rabbits; hence, the change of direction in the management of rabbits in the early 1970s from eradication to control” [1]. Integrated Pest Management IPM is deeply informed by the ecological and social sciences and has now become routine in horticulture and agriculture internationally because it works. Read More

Predator Free by 2050 – a reputational risk to conservation - Politecol

Mar 16, 2018

I am suspicious when government conservation policy is promoted as a religious war against animals, like Predator-Free 2050 has been (see last month’s post). Instead, why isn’t the rational case for our support being made? I suspect that the religious and war-like language is indicative of flaws in the policy or its implementation (see my last post) In this post, I reflect on the reputational risk to the wider conservation movement of the Predator Free 2050 policy. Risk management when making policy Ideally, government policy is made using evidence not only for its need but its probable success. Policy risks and costs are explicitly considered and weighed against the benefits. These are, then, communicated honestly with the public to motivate their rational support. Should failures occur, the public is then better prepared. This way their support for future conservation policies (or … Read More

Why is Predator-Free 2050 advocated using the language of religion and war? - Politecol

Feb 01, 2018

The leaders of the Predator-Free movement routinely describe their goal to eradicate rats, stoats and possums from New Zealand by 2050 with religious and militaristic phrases (see Monday’s post). Sir Rob Fenwick (a Director of Predator-Free 2050), for example, described it as a “project born in a leap of faith”, and a “call to arms” by an “army of volunteers” “winning this battle“, with “weapons“. Even the public service (Department of Conservation) has its “War on Weeds” and “Battle for our Birds“. Source: predatorfreenz.org Motivating us not to think Government and populist movements use religious and war-like rhetoric to motivate support when their task is impossible, irrational or not in the wider interest. They are appealing to our hearts, not our heads. They’d prefer that we didn’t think critically about … Read More

Predator Free 2050 – more like a religious war than science-based conservation policy - Politecol

Jan 29, 2018

One of the leaders of the Predator-Free movement, Sir Rob Fenwick (Chair of the Predator Free New Zealand Trust and a Director of Predator-Free 2050), described Predator-Free 2050 as a “project born in a leap of faith” (Dominion Post). He appears to think the predator-free goal is more like a religion than a science-based conservation project. And, his religion is going to war. The religious war against pests Just like a war for his religious belief, Sir Fenwick described his ‘believers’ as “the unsung heroes of this crusade” and an “army of volunteers” and the importance for the future of “helping to attract young people to the campaign.” He goes on: “It’s pretty obvious we won’t win this battle killing rats and stoats one at a time. There are millions of them and … Read More

Predator-free is a “mirage” – John Parkes - Politecol

Jan 08, 2018

Killing predators to reduce their impact is an important part of wildlife conservation in New Zealand. It delivers good outcomes for biodiversity, especially for our birds and reptiles. It does not logically or scientifically follow, however, that attempting to eradicate predators from ALL of New Zealand is also a good idea. Indeed, some scientists think that a national predator-free goal is a very bad idea. Introducing Dr. John Parkes John Parkes has a long pedigree in the science and business of wildlife eradication. He once worked for New Zealand’s government-funded, Landcare Research Ltd. where he developed world-first technologies and strategies for animal control and eradication. He now operates his own consultancy: Kurahaupo Consulting, out of Christchurch. From there, he has made a business of helping other nations successfully eradicate problem wildlife from their islands. When a scientist … Read More

Biodiversity conservation in 2100 - Politecol

Nov 10, 2017

This was the theme of today’s panel-public discussion in Old Government Buildings at Victoria University. It was chaired by Kathryn Ryan – host of Radio New Zealand’s Nine-to-noon. Panelists were asked to provide an opening statement that answered the above questions (text box) and described their position. Here is mine. In 2100 people will be an important and unavoidable parts of all ecosystems. We will be routinely genetically modifying old biodiversity, breeding new species and designing and constructing new ecosystems. We will be doing that on this planet and starting to do it on moons and other planets too. Farmers, doctors and conservationists, to name a few, will be doing this to manage a global environment that is different and changing. The earth’s ecosystems and their biodiversity will be changed at all scales – from their … Read More