Authors: James N. Levitt
December 1, 2002
Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation, John F. Kennedy School of Government
Observers throughout the course of U.S. history, including such prominent commentators as Alexis de Tocqueville in his classic volume Democracy in America, have dismissed Americans' willingness to appreciate or conserve nature. In fact, American women and men have a long and distinguished record of realizing landmark conservation innovations that are: novel on a worldwide basis; politically significant; measurably effective; transferable to separate organizations, jurisdictions, and nations; and, particularly significant in the field of conservation, enduring. This paper reviews conservation innovations in the United States, and starts with the observation that among the many important conservation innovations that Americans have achieved, only a distinct subset of them has had an enduring impact and so can be onsidered landmark innovations. Twenty-first century conservationists are challenged to bring forth a new generation of landmark innovations commensurate with the considerable threats to open space and biodiversity that we now face.
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