Yesterday the Heritage Newspapers in southern Wisconsin published a story about the amazing turnaround of the striking Kirtland’s warbler. The author listed the on-the-ground actions that led to the success and some of the partners involved.
What was not discussed was the relationships that were essential to this success. Friendships and trust formed and nurtured over the past forty years. It is very likely that private landowners, fire departments, health officials, timber companies, state and federal biologists and land managers, and others listened to each other’s hopes and concerns about a path forward.
Adaptive challenges like species recovery won’t be solved with more data alone. What is absolutely essential is leadership from the people involved because solutions are found through our interactions with others. These interactions over time form relationships. Relationships are incubators of trust. And trust is necessary if we’re asked to give up something we hold dear for the greater good.
Want to bring back an endangered species? I would suggest we work harder to objectively hear all views and let the best collaborative idea win. Doing so will require spending less on data collection and more on building trust. What do you think?