When does science become art? We often refer to the “Art and Science of Range Management’ but how often do we acknowledge the “art” or the “artist?” in today’s world of ever-expanding technology and engineering, many aspects of the “art” of natural resource and land management are being overshadowed by a desire for predictability driven decision processes.
This session with Jenny Pluhar and Frank Price, involving a conversation with H.L. Bentley, Special Agent in Charge of Grass, Abilene, Texas Field Station, 1898, was recorded at the Society for Range Management annual meeting in Denver in February 2020.
Learn more about Frank Price at https://rangelandsandranching.com/.
The desire to be “right,” or better yet, to not be “wrong,” weighs heavily on the decision-maker and ultimately can lead to inaction for fear of getting the science wrong. Science and management theory have become a driver for many decision-makers in their efforts to minimize potential negative impacts of decisions made, and in the realm of natural resources, command and control are sought over managed ecosystems. Management decisions must be made every day in the world of land management and are nearly always made with less than perfect and far less than complete knowledge. Those tasked with the responsibility of stewarding the lands they manage are confronted with challenges that require a decision in the present that may have long-term implications, both to the operation as well as across a broad array of society. Added to the basic operational challenges of land management, the impacts of social, political, ecological and economic drivers confront the land manager with a complexity of scenarios that cannot be addressed through traditional scientific methodologies. in addressing these facts, the Society for Range Management recognized that rangeland management is the “art and science” of deploying management decisions on the landscapes. Whereas, academic endeavors rightfully focus on the “science,” the practitioner remains the ultimate decision-maker in the rangeland management system, the “artist” if you will, integrating both “art” and “science” into the decision-making process. in many ways, land management is truly a creative endeavor with the managers creativity producing the art of the management process. Science favors one “right” answer, while the artist may create many scenarios on the landscape, utilizing the science but considering all the other drivers mentioned above.
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A full transcript of this session is available at https://bit.ly/2RnGI9m