De- and Re-constructing Public Governance for Biodiversity Conservation
58 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2021
Date Written: January 4, 2021
This Article deconstructs the substantive, procedural, and structural components of biodiversity governance in the United States. Though proposals for untangling wicked problems largely focus on procedural governance, managing complex problems like biodiversity loss also requires consideration of substantive and structural elements. Particularly in the context of global anthropogenic climate change, the substantive goals and tools of public action, the processes used by governmental institutions to advance such goals and implement such tools, and the structure of allocated authority among public institutions have been devised in ways that make biodiversity loss virtually impossible to tackle meaningfully. In other words, the existing legal infrastructure lacks the adaptive capacity to manage complexity and uncertainty.
A preliminary reconstruction of public biodiversity governance explains how the United States might reframe public institutions to better cope with the wickedness of biodiversity loss. Express integration of ecological health and reliance on more active and flexible interventions in conservation laws may be necessary for managing ecological change. Significant opportunities also remain for adapting biodiversity governance to promote learning, reduce uncertainty, and adjust strategies as ecological conditions shift and managers gain information. Finally, tailored alterations to the allocation of authority over natural resources can leverage key advantages of centralized and/or coordinated institutions while maintaining the largely decentralized, independent, and overlapping character of public biodiversity governance.
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