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Stated Conservation Goals and Theories of Social Environmental Change

Goal 1 of 2.13 Conservation Element of UCF's Final Campus Master Plan pledges to "Maintain a commitment to the protection of the University's ecosystems and lands" and to "ensure that these resources are protected for the benefit of present and future generations while accommodating the continued development and expansion of the campus's built environment" (UCFCMP). However, how committed is the University to protecting lands of environmental significance? The University's declaration of its commitment toward development in this Conservation Element contradicts the definition of conservation: to protect and preserve natural lands and resources. Development is one of the most pervasive threats to conservation (Rosenberg et al., 1997). My first theory of social environmental change proposes that contradictions such as this exist in political documents due to institutional values that endorse industrial progress for economic growth. Industrial growth is "accommodated" despite environmental concerns of habitat loss. Due to a lack of commitment of politicians and developers, habitat loss remains unaddressed. The UCF planning documents indicate that the administration understands the significance of protecting and maintaining natural lands. However, efforts to combat habitat loss and developmental trends in Florida do not promote conservation.

The 1994 CMP recognized the importance and pursuit of conservation strategies at UCF. Goal 1 of 2.13 Conservation Element reveals a theme of institutionalized compromise between conservation and development. It hopes to protect undisturbed lands while at the same time "accommodating the continued development and expansion of the campus's built environment" (UCFCMP). This leads to my second theory of social environmental change: themes of compromise exist in political documents because stakeholders, such as developers, conservationists, and UCF administration, are capable of ensuring collaborative measures in achieving diverse goals. However, the complexity of environmental, political, and economic concerns can contribute to the failure of stakeholders to ensure effective collaboration among scientists, decision makers, and other stakeholders (Reyers et al., 2010). Collaboration among agencies is critical to conservation success and is impacted primarily by the presence, or absence, of communication, adequate funding, and strong scientific research. The central difference of institutionalized values and developmental trends involves the differential power of structure (theory 1) and agents (theory 2).

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