New directions in ecological management
The idea of ecological “conservation” has always been in evolution, and today it is responding to the challenges of climate change, as well as being enriched by the addition of indigenous practices and knowledge. Legislation still lags behind, as it tends to, but the field is undeniably growing, which offers some encouragement for an uncertain future.
One of the people who is helping to broaden the work and the ethics of conservation is Leia Barnett. Leia is the Greater Gila Campaigner for WildEarth Guardians, an organization that seeks to protect and restore the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the US American West. Born and raised in the foothills and arroyos of the Sangre de Cristo mountains in New Mexico, Leia is thrilled to bring her love and deep reverence for the high desert country of the Southwest to the Greater Gila campaign. Leia graduated summa cum laude from the University of New Mexico’s cultural anthropology program, where she focused on the ways the more-than-human world can be reimagined through anthropological theory and practice.
Leia and I spoke on January 18th, and we discussed Piñon pines, their ecological role, and how climate change is affecting them; the question of how the conservation movement should respond; public lands and their levels of protection and exploitation; the concept of “wilderness;” the necessity of the involvement of indigenous people and knowledge in conservation work; linguistic anthropology; the power and limitations of science; the question of how to encourage nature awareness to urban dwellers; the remarkable adaptability of plants; grazing permit retirements as a way of reducing ranching on public lands; and her visions for the future.