"We are constantly being touched...by nature, and it's only our imaginations that can help us know that. I've been interested in environmental problems for a long time, and I just don't see economics solving it or politics solving it, because they're all bandages, and it seems to me that if we are going to have a new connection to the environment it will have to happen in individual hearts and souls...the [musician] can help us fall in love with the earth again."
Paulus Berensohn, artist (2002)

Montana's 'wheat field quilt' LANDSAT:1976

The widely accepted definition of agriculture is that it is the science, art and/or practice of tilling the earth to produce crops and rear animals. Although conservation of biodiversity is based on sound scientific principles of evolution and adaptations of species to environment, the actual practice of conservation is akin to agriculture as husbandry. Conservation management is actually more of an art than is agriculture. This is because much of the knowledge comes from actually doing, rather than being only theoretical. People develop ways that things work for them in their particular circumstance and the ability to do this, with respect to a particular place, is accumulated over time. In this context, Wendell Berry brings farming and conservation together and unites them both as examples of husbandry.

"To husband is to use with care, to keep, to save, to make last, to conserve. Old usage tells us that there is a husbandry also of the land, of the soil, of the domestic plants and animals - obviously because of the importance of these things to the household. And there have been times, one of which is now, when some people have tried to practice a proper human husbandry of the non-domestic creatures in recognition of the dependence of our households and domestic life upon the wild world. Husbandry is the name of all practices that sustain life by connecting us conservingly to our places and our world; it is the art of keeping tied all the strands in the living network that sustains us.

And so it appears that most and perhaps all of industrial agriculture's manifest failures are the result of an attempt to make the land produce without husbandry."

Husbandry is a metaphor for love of place. It is another way of expressing the feelings of love that conservation managers have for their patch. In fact emotions play a central role in the managerial decisions we all make. For example, we often make poor investment choices because we are driven by our emotions rather than rational judgment. Here then is a relationship between art and science that we should harness in order to bring conservation management towards the center of education. When emotional input is added to learning experiences, it makes them more memorable and exciting. The brain deems the information more important and enhances memory of the event. Presenting ecological facts alone is less likely to result in long-term changes in feelings and behaviours towards the planet.

This brings the art of conservation into the realm of 'art in management', where arts offer a way to make an emotional bridge between people and nature. Art can provoke reactions that typical education and outreach methods do not. Art has the potential to inform audiences or participants in a new way about conservation topics, and it can stimulate new dialogues and actions.