Understanding the Human Factor in Endangered Species Recovery: An Introduction to Human Social Process

By: Tim W. Clark and Richard L. Wallace


Biologists often take a technical biological view of species recovery overlooking the necessity of attending to the human factor. The Hawaiian monk seal and grizzly bears in Yellowstone region cases well illustrate negative consequences to a recovery program when social process is overlooked, underattended to, or ignored. Understanding human social process in practical terms is essential as species will be recovered only if human social process can be made to effectively support restoration. A practical model of social process (i.e., participants, their perspectives, situation, values, strategies, outcomes, and effects) is described and a method to realistically "map" it is introduced. Also, seven kinds of public participation in species recovery are described. It is recommended that more attention be given to social process dimensions of species recovery at the same time biological issues are addressed and that the public be involved actively in support of species conservation.

Tim Clark is a Professor Adjunct at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a Fellow in the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. He is also President of the Board of the Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, Jackson, Wyoming. Richard Wallace is a Ph.D. Candidate at Yale studying endangered species conservation and has had extensive experience with the Marine Mammal Commission.

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