Branding Iron | April 9, 2019
By Elizabeth Chambers

Conservation policy needs more carrots and fewer sticks if we are going to create a long-lasting and effective model of protecting the natural environment, says former Natural Resources and Environment undersecretary at the United States Department of Agriculture Robert Bonnie.

Bonnie, currently the Rubenstein Fellow at Duke University, spoke Thursday at the College of Business to a near-packed auditorium as part of UW Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources’ new speaker series.

He traced the history of different approaches to conserving land and wildlife, starting with Teddy Roosevelt’s progressive “moral crusade” protecting land from exploitation for the good of all people to modern initiatives emphasizing incentives and collaboration between public and private landowners.

“The problem,” Bonnie said, “is we’re stuck between two opposite paradigms.” One is the old-school method of confrontational regulation while the other is the more promising collaboration approach. With the old school, “It felt like conservation was being done to you instead of done with you.”