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Jerry Oliva: Science should be a tool of knowledge, not power

Jerry Oliva: Science should be a tool of knowledge, not power

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Source Forests of the Czech Republic

When I see press releases related to forests, I feel that forests are now a game that needs to be reduced and their numbers replaced by environmentalists and scientists. When simplistic views emerge from the general public, this is understandable given the limited amount of information it receives in this regard. When it comes to perspectives, albeit qualifying but one-sided, the result should be a modular, interdisciplinary approach to the solution. However, if solutions of power emerge, the actors should be warned that in democratic countries, these solutions belong to the state only, and only because its representatives are elected by all citizens. This is one of the basic principles of democracy. However, it appears that these principles no longer apply in the forest sector.

When I come back to the press releases from the forest field, I am not surprised. In the second half of last year, a group of scientists demanded in an open letter the dismissal of Deputy Minister of Agriculture for Forestry Patrick Miliana. The reason was his opinion of management in the floodplain forests of South Moravia, specifically the Sotok Game Reserve.

I recently read that almost the same group of scientists is filing a lawsuit against Lesy ČR for managing the Bulhary Game Reserve, which is managed by the Židlochovice forest plant. If these efforts are successful, we will be in the 1970s, a time of so-called normalization.

Many of us remember very well a time when only one opinion was correct. It does not matter whether it is the opinion of “the party and the government” or the opinion of another group. There was also a job loss for a different and free opinion at the time, and sometimes a false accusation was used, and I would think, apparently naively, that this time was over 50 years ago. However, let’s take a look at both cases.

The common denominator for both cases is a group of scholars. Their number (alleged 6,500) attempts to give the impression that a large part of the professional scientific community supports their opinion.

this is not true. Professional scientific societies, which support their requirements through the signature of their chairmen, constitute a narrow group of scientists focused on protecting one or more species. This is definitely a commendable activity, and I value these scientific activities myself, provided they serve knowledge. However, the form of the force used does not serve the knowledge, but rather the elimination of different opinions, and in this case even leads to the condition of job loss. There are many definitions of science in the literature, and in the vast majority of them we find the term “systematic perception”. However, the methods used here do not bear signs of perception, but signs of framing.

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Another question is the relationship between disciplines. Here, too, the principle of synthesis should be applied, and not the supremacy of some disciplines over others. A key feature of the science of forestry and forestry in general is the interdisciplinary approach.

For forest professionals, who are generally insulted by sweeping environmental initiatives, there is neither nor can it be just botany, anthropology, herpetology, entomology, ornithology and other disciplines with a strong focus on protectionism. They must also respect knowledge of ecology, economics, political science, and sociology, as well as various technical sciences.

This was also reflected in the development of forest science. Their representatives in our country and in the world presented themselves more as structuralists. They understood each being as a complex system of relationships between the elements, and a system involved in a broader system of relationships in their environment. Most of them, such as Henri Bioley, Georg Ludwig Hartig, Hugo Konias, Josef Konšel and many others, were also important practitioners and managed large forest estates. They have all sought to find compromises between their scientific knowledge, knowledge of other scientific disciplines, the owner’s interest, and the necessary historical, social and societal considerations.

Such an approach is also essential in the forests of both Soutok and Bulhary Hunting Reserve. Both were created by demonstrable human activity, specifically by the forests of Liechtenstein in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and it is fitting that forest workers today continue their work. Of course, regarding today’s conditions, and of course even today from a multidisciplinary perspective, and most importantly, with clear responsibility for the outcome.

In the event of a negative impact of the proposed measures, will scientists be held accountable? What will be the responsibility of everyone who signs the Force’s statements? Who protects some people’s heads or files criminal reports? Of course zero! This is appropriate, however, because science must know, teach, and teach, but not to make decisions or advocate shaking heads.

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Although such an approach seems logical, it is different in the Czech Republic. When beautiful forest areas of biological value appear, which have been created through conscious human economic activity, the efforts of environmentalists, who aim to “break” the forests from there and seize land in their own administration, immediately emerge. It’s often a struggle for power and money rather than nature conservation, and since I was a member of the state’s Environment Fund board in 2011-12, I can talk at great length about the rationality of “noble” money for nature conservation.

Contempt for other conservation activities, specifically biosphere reserves, is also a very defining feature of these activities.

In the Sotok case, in a letter calling for the dismissal of the deputy minister, the actors stated: “Biosphere reserves have no support in our legal system. Therefore, nothing of their presence would contribute in any way to protecting the nature of their lands. Consequently, ocean reserves Bio does not provide adequate protection, but rather does not protect the area at all. ”

I have no doubt that the authors are never ignorant of the biosphere reserve issue. I just don’t understand why they use such an argument. No doubt he knows very well what BRs are, who advertises them and what their meaning and activities are. The fact that BR activities do not focus solely on protecting and supporting environmentally friendly agriculture, which ensures sustainable development, is not an impediment, but rather the opposite.

It also knows with certainty that nature conservation is one of the primary functions of BR, along with support for sustainable development, research, environmental education, as well as education. In the fundamental areas of the BR, protection is the main priority.

Unlike the Czech Republic, many countries of the Radiocommunication Zone have included it in their legislation. The fact that this is not the case in the Czech Republic is just an example of a nature conservation approach, which is required by laws, decrees and administrative procedures by CEI in particular and wonders about the volunteer activities of the company that lead to nature protection and conservation.

The so-called “bottom-up approach to nature conservation” is applied in many countries, which are often designed according to us. It is undoubtedly more effective than the extremely stringent legislation that leads to circumvention rather than benefit.

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Personally, I consider the activities of biosphere reserves, the Czech Federation for Nature Conservation and other activities of this nature much more beneficial than the unilateral and forced enforcement of scientific opinions, the consequences of which will never be borne by the authors.

In one of the published texts, the sentence recorded that the Deputy Minister of Agriculture insulted all scholars with his answer. Isn’t that an insult to all those who, in their spare time and often for their money, engage in biosphere reserves and whom someone declares that they mean nothing at all from the point of view of protecting nature?

In most cases of these conflicts the situation is not resolved, what happens when the implemented solution, based on alleged scientific conclusions, does not achieve the expected effect.

In the case of Sotok, there are scientific opinions and quite the opposite – they warn of irresponsible experiments in lightening vegetation and modifying the water regime in large areas of vegetation. This view is based on the long-term experience of forests with agricultural interventions in floodplain forests and on knowledge of the hydrological conditions in the area. Many scientists see a great danger, especially in the emergence of weeds, light-loving woody plants, lowering of groundwater levels, etc.

However, even for this, scientific methods have their own way, which is experiment. It consists in the fact that in a given area, objects, etc., it is verified to a limited extent whether the assumed hypothesis is correct and its application will lead to the expected results.

As far as I know, such a solution has been introduced many times in the Sotok region, but the massive requirements to declare a large protected area greatly limit these efforts. Likewise, when evaluating the Bulhary branch, LZ idlochovice will likely agree to allocate a limited space, as the effect of measures proposed by scientists on the occurrence of jasmine will be examined.

However, if any group of scholars assumes that forensic reporting on this issue is the best way to communicate, after 44 years of experience at all levels of forests, forest academia, and political activism, I can responsibly declare that this is a fatal mistake.


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