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Novel ecosystems and the return of nature in the anthropocene

Baker, Susan ORCID: 2019. Novel ecosystems and the return of nature in the anthropocene. Arias-Maldonado, Manuel and Trachtenberg, Zev, eds. Rethinking the environment for the anthropocene: Political theory and socionatural relations in the new geological epoch, London: Taylor and Francis, pp. 51-64. (10.4324/9780203731895-4)

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Social scientists are aware that ‘nature’ itself has to be understood in its ‘social quality’. However, in the context of the Anthropocene, understanding of ‘nature’ needs to be informed by three interrelated developments within biology and its sub-discipline of (conservation) ecology. Firstly, recognition that all ecosystems are naturally dynamic, although rates of change are much faster in the Anthropocene. Secondly, the spread of novel ecosystems, with analysis suggesting that up to 83% of Earth’s land surface is to some degree now ‘novel’ as a consequence of changing species distributions and environmental alteration from climate and land use changes. Novel ecosystems need to be seen as legitimate targets for ecological thought. Thirdly, the rise of ‘new conservationism’ that promotes economic development, poverty alleviation, and corporate partnerships as substitutes for endangered species listings, protected areas, and other mainstream conservation tools. Closely linked to this is the Anthropocene ‘ecomodernist manifesto’ arguing that should humans embrace, not minimize, their enormous influence on the planet. These three developments help build an understanding of society/nature relations on a dynamic, non-binary view of nature; inform a more nuanced set of questions about the future of environmental policy, including conservationism in the Anthropocene; and open up debates about the ideological significance of the turn to ‘new conservationism’ for the future of environmentalism.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
ISBN: 978-1138302150
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 13:24

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