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国家公园,历史写照:美国国家公园中的风景与科学

(2011-09-20 09:21:21)
标签:

杂谈

分类: 社会与生活

 

 

Old Faithful Inn (NPS)
1904年在黄石公园建造老忠泉旅店(Old Faithful Inn)时,工程人员基本没有考虑这一建筑对生态的影响。
 

理查德·韦斯特·塞拉斯

 

 

美国国家公园在建立初期的管理中,对大自然的科学规律缺乏认识;一个管理着国家大片最宝贵公共资源的官僚机构在很多年里并不真正懂得生态科学。科学管理原则是在数十年之后才得到公园管理者的应有重视。

 

理查德·韦斯特·塞拉斯(Richard West Sellars)是已退休的国家公园史学工作者,著有《国家公园自然生态保护史》一书(Preserving Nature in the National Parks: A History耶鲁大学出版社1997年出版)。他曾担任以国家公园科学自然资源项目创始人、生物学家乔治·赖特(George Wright)命名的国际自然资源保护组织乔治·赖特协会(George Wright Society)主席。

 

我在1973年进入国家公园管理局,从事史学工作。作为这个令人仰慕的机构中的一名新雇员,我以为,对如何管理这些有着壮阔自然历史的著名国家公园——如黄石(Yellowstone)、大沼泽(Everglades)、大烟山(Great Smoky Mountains)等,生物学家最有发言权。我想当然地认为,在公园决策中,生态因素主导一切。我实在是太天真了!

 

很多年以后,在1990年代,我在撰写国家公园自然资源管理史的过程中才意识到,生物工作者为倡导合乎生态的管理方式付出了多少艰辛的努力。数十年中,他们一直与在公园体制中具有真正主导地位的专业人士据理力争,因为那些专业人士所最为关心的是如何保护公园的风景和吸引游客。

 

这种公园管理理念上的分歧反映了美国国家公园始终面临的一个根本矛盾:在公园里,到底什么是应该为子孙后代保留的遗产?是风景本身——优美的森林、绿谷、高山、野花以及神奇的动物? 还是公园的整个生态体系——不仅包括最著名的物种和景点,而且也包括各种不那么引人注目的类别,例如野草和土壤真菌?

 

近年来另一个因素也引起人们的重视,即这些公园对地球生态的作用。犹如亚马孙雨林对生态具有特殊的影响一样,国家公园对全球也有着特殊的生态平衡作用。

 

国家公园优美壮观的景色会让人以为,保护风景是惟一的目标。不错,建立第一批国家公园的主要原因是为了保护风景,例如:建于1872年的黄石公园, 建于1890年的红杉(Sequoia)公园和优胜美地(Yosemite)公园。而且,除了地质奇观以外,令游人最叹为观止的的确是那些自然景象——是森林和野花,而不是野鼠和蝾螈。19世纪末,人们对生态科学只有朦胧的认识。虽然许多重要的生物群被划入公园界内,但大多数纯属偶然,也就是说,因为它们恰好处在受保护的、展示自然界“外貌”的风景区内。

 

注重风景的“外貌”管理

 

美国国会于1916年批准成立国家公园管理局,以便对日益增多的国家公园给与协调管理。国会的立法规定,要保护风景、自然生物、野生动物,并做到在让公众享受公园的同时,保护公园不受损害,从而使子孙后代得以继续享受。这项立法的用意很广,兼顾了公园的保护与使用两方面。但是,在实际中,所谓保护公园不受损害,几乎完全用来指对风景点的保护,这些景点四周的各类微妙的生态成分并没有被考虑在内。

 

为了给游人开辟到达公园著名景点的通路,公园早期管理人员力求让新建筑在视觉上取得与自然景观的和谐。他们修建露营地,建造大型旅馆,将高速公路延伸到公园的野生风景区。那时候的工程师和园林建筑师将不少旅馆、博物馆以及其它多种设施建造在主要景点的制高点,但由于采用了质朴的建筑风格,以原木和石头为材料,所以这些设施看上去与自然景色浑然一体。公园中的铁路和桥梁设计也同样遵循了与环境和谐的原则。

 

以视觉效果为出发点的早期公园设计,几乎完全没有考虑与生态有关的影响。不过,管理人员的确没有让某些铁路、水坝和水库等大型工程进入园区。他们使森林、野生动物、特别是诱人的大型哺乳动物,得到了保护。因此,除了一些游人服务设施外,公园中的山林谷地始终郁郁葱葱,林木茂盛,没有受到损害。

 

但是,由于保护风景并不需要基于多少科学根据,因此一些不利于生态环境的做法也逐渐夹杂进来,例如:引进一些非原生的奇异物种;为避免破坏风景区而阻止森林自然燃烧;消灭了山中捕食其它动物的狮子和狼,以及为防止风景林区被当地原生昆虫破坏而使用杀虫剂等等。

 

就这样,外貌管理成为标准的管理手段。它让公众享受到了公园的美景,但却基本没有顾及这样做可能带来的生态后果。在当时的公园管理者看来,好像无论什么新措施,只要没有严重影响公园的景观,就是做到了“保护公园不受损害,从而让子孙后代得以继续享受”。

 

park setting (© AP Images)

 
公园管理如今致力于保护从纤细植被到雄伟高峰的园内一切景物。
 

生态问题

 

上个世纪二十年代中期,公园的生物专业人员认识到,动植物群是相互关联的庞大生态结构中的有机部分。然而,由于国家公园管理局不重视基于科学研究的管理方式,直到1929年才开始成立自然科学项目,而且使用的完全是公园管理局的富翁生物学家乔治·赖特的私人基金。虽然公园管理局很快也开始为赖特的项目提供资金,但是,在1936年赖特因车祸不幸去世后,原本正在扩大的以赖特为首的生物专业人员的影响力骤然减少。

 

在此之后,又经过了将近三十年时间,那些与公园管理局传统进行抗争的生物工作者才真正重新在公园管理中发挥作用。这次他们得到了来自公园管理体系之外的支持。1963年,美国国家科学院(National Academy of Sciences)在它的报告中,对公园管理局提出尖锐批评,并呼吁管理人员通过强化科学研究来确保维护公园的生态系统。报告将公园称作是一个“由相互关联的植物、动物及其栖息环境组成的系统”,并敦促将这一系统视为“生物银行”。报告明确指出,公园管理局只注重风景保护是不够的。

 

同在1963年,由当时的著名生物学家、加州大学教授利奥波德(A. Starker Leopold)担任主席的一个特别顾问委员会,公布了自1916年通过立法建立国家公园管理局以后最具有影响力的一份报告文件。报告强调了加强生态管理的必要性,主张让每个大型自然野生公园成为美国原生态的缩影。它提出,每一公园内原有的生物群都“应维持不变 ,必要时,尽可能将一切还原到白种人首次涉足时的状态。

 

这一方针说明,人们意识到来自欧洲的移民及其技术给生态环境带来严重变化。于是,在大型野生公园一切可行的地方,公园管理局开始进行恢复生态的努力。“利奥波德报告”成为了将外貌管理与生态管理相结合的奠基石。得到恢复的野生原始景观将不仅以优美的外貌,而且也以更为真实的整体生态气象而受到珍视。促成管理方式变化的原因之一是,人们急切意识到,如果不转变方式,公园即使壮丽景色长存,也不会再有物种的多样性可言。

 

“利奥波德报告”针对复杂的生态问题的一系列有说服力的阐述,无疑是使这份报告产生长远影响的一个原因。但另一个更为微妙的原因是,报告作出的对美国原生态的憧憬激起了美国人的浪漫爱国情怀;公园犹如尚未开发的处女地,唤起了人们对“来自新大陆”的联想。公园管理局非常希望认同这一愿景,并将它呈现给美国公众。这种憧憬从几乎最深刻的层次揭示出公园存在的文化意义——始终作为公园民意基础的浪漫爱国主义,以及与拓荒时代息息相连的群山莽原对这个国家的起源与命运的强大象征性。

 

“利奥波德报告”为公园管理局生物专业人员要求改变管理方式助了强有力的一臂之力。公园开始采用科学方法,力求使林火管理符合森林自燃规律。公园也取消了喷洒杀虫药的做法,让地方物种得到更好保护。公园还在减少极其有害物种的同时,重新引进已经消失的地方物种。

 

自然管理方式的实施也受益于国会立法,其中包括1964年的《荒原法》(Wilderness Act)和1973年的《濒危物种法》(Endangered Species Act) 。这两项法律以及《国家环境政策法》(National Environmental Policy Act)等其它立法促使国家公园改进管理,并将公园管理运作置于更广泛的公共监督之下,其中包括让公众参与公园规划。

 

然而,上世纪六十和七十年代的环保运动以及利奥波德和全国科学院的报告,并未能使国家公园管理局对以保护风景为重点的传统做法作出实质性改变。对于要求扩大研究项目的呼声,除环保团体以外,国家公园管理局、国会和社会公众都没有给予充分支持,而这类项目是进行合理的生态管理的基础。

 

自然资源挑战

 

二十世纪末,随着地球温室效应、人口膨胀、栖息地被破坏以及全球生物种类减少等问题日趋严重,国家公园作为生态实验室和“基因库”的概念日益清晰起来。科学家和越来越多的美国民众认为,国家公园对地球生态健康至关重要——它们是基因材料的宝库,是自然生态的宝岛,是抵御发生无法逆转的变态和防止物种灭亡的堡垒。

 

我在1997年出版的《国家公园自然生态保护史》中,对国家公园管理局几十年中的自然资源管理作了有时是很严厉的批评性分析。国家公园管理局随即发起了一项大规模自然资源行动,即“自然资源挑战”(Natural Resource Challenge)。这项在1999年8月宣布的行动计划很快得到国会两党支持,并且一直持续至今。由它逐步带来的科学资源管理资金和人员的增加,是国家公园管理局历史上前所未有的。

 

这是一项非常全面的计划,旨在为保护资源和促进公园与社会发展而为专业人员以及社会公众收集、推广和宣传科学知识。其中包括,加强对公园内原生物种(陆栖、水栖均包括在内)的鉴定编目;观察它们生存状态的变化;保护和恢复濒危物种,同时排除非原生物种。这项计划还要求加强对空气和水的监控。为实现这些以及其它所有目标,不仅应一如既往地为公众游览公园和了解公园的自然资源以及为公园的保护工作提供更多机会,而且也必须发展公园的专业人员队伍。

 

自然资源挑战行动使国家公园管理进入了一个新时代。在野生公园的风景管理和科学管理之间出现了前所未有的理解与合作。尤其有意义的是,它使国家公园管理局能够更得力地应对本世纪日益严重的环境威胁。而且,在国会和国家公园管理局、同时也在美国人的整体意识中,这项行动所强调的对公园自然生态的总体性保护, 使1916年国会提出的“保护公园不受损害,以便让子孙后代得以继续享受”这一立法观念得到了更宽展、更具生态含义的解释。

——————————

本文表达的看法不一定反映美国政府的观点或政策

 

 

Scenery and Science in U.S. National Parks

 

Old Faithful Inn (NPS)
Builders of the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone gave little consideration to the ecological impact of construction in 1904.

 

By Richard West Sellars

The complex science that governs the natural world was poorly understood when the first national parks were created in the United States. As years went by, these vast reserves of public land were managed by a bureaucracy that really did not understand their ecology. Decades passed before those principles earned their rightful place in the minds of the guardians of the nation’s most precious resources.

 

Richard West Sellars is a retired National Park Service historian and author of Preserving Nature in the National Parks: A History (Yale University Press, 1997). He is past president of the George Wright Society, an international conservation organization named in honor of the biologist who founded the National Park Service’s scientific natural resource programs.

 

I first went to work as a historian with the National Park Service in 1973. As a new employee in this venerable institution, I assumed that the biologists in the Park Service must play a leading role in managing renowned national parks such as Yellowstone, Everglades, and the Great Smoky Mountains, with their magnificent displays of natural history. Surely ecological concerns would be foremost in park decision making. How naïve I was!

 

Much later, in the 1990s, as I wrote a history of the Park Service’s management of nature in the national parks, I realized the true extent to which biologists had struggled to promote ecologically sound management. For decades they had battled the truly dominant professionals in the Park Service, who were concerned primarily with protecting park scenery as a means of attracting tourism.

 

These differing philosophies on park management reflect what has always been the central dilemma of the U.S. national parks: Exactly what in a park should be preserved for future generations? Is it the scenery itself -- the resplendent landscapes of forests and meadows, high mountains, wildflowers, and spectacular animals? Or is it more? Is it each park’s total natural system, including not just the biological and scenic superstars, but also the vast array of less dramatic species such as grasses and soil fungi?

 

In recent decades another consideration has entered the equation: Increasingly, the parks are viewed as ecologically vital to the planet -- as globally important in their way as the Amazon rainforest is in its way.

 

Yet the majestic beauty of the national parks gives rise to the impression that scenery alone is what makes them worthwhile and deserving of protection. Indeed, scenic preservation was the major factor in establishing the first national parks -- Yellowstone in 1872, followed by Sequoia and Yosemite in 1890. In addition to spectacular topography, what mattered most to the public were the conspicuous elements of nature -- forests and wildflowers, rather than mice and salamanders. Ecological sciences were only dimly understood in the late 19th century. And though many important ecological communities were included within park boundaries, this was thanks largely to chance because these communities occurred in areas set aside to protect scenery, the beautiful “facade” of nature.

 

The Focus on Scenery

 

In 1916, the U.S. Congress created the National Park Service to coordinate management of a steadily growing system of national parks. The legislation called for the conservation of scenery, natural objects, and wildlife, and for public enjoyment of these attractions in such a way that would leave the parks “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” The intent of this legislation has always been ambiguous, since it blessed both preservation and use. But in actual, on-the-ground practice, leaving parks “unimpaired” applied almost entirely to the parks’ scenery, not to the subtle elements of their ecological communities.

 

In developing parks to give tourists access to the great scenic attractions, early park managers and their successors sought to achieve visual harmony between new construction and the natural scenery. They developed campgrounds, built grand hotels, and routed highways through the parks’ scenic backcountry. Engineers and landscape architects located many early hotels, museums, and other facilities almost on top of major features, yet they often built in a rustic architectural style using heavy logs and stone so that the structures appear to be part of the natural scenery. Similarly, they designed roadways and bridges to blend with natural surroundings.

 

Attuned to these visual factors, park developers of this earlier era showed almost no concern for ecological processes. However, managers did oppose certain major intrusions -- railroads, dams, and reservoirs. And they protected the forests and attractive wildlife, particularly large, charismatic mammals. Thus, except for tourist facilities, the parks’ mountains and valleys were kept unscarred, the forests flourishing and the meadows lush with vegetation.

 

But maintaining scenery required little scientific input, so ecologically unsound practices crept in as well: the introduction of exotic, non-native species; suppression of forest fires to prevent dark scars on the scenic landscapes; eradication of mountain lions and wolves, which preyed on other mammals; and the use of pesticides to prevent scenic forests from being infested and denuded by native insects.

 

park setting (© AP Images)
Park management practices today attempt to guard all the elements of a park setting, from plants to soaring peaks.

“Facade management” thus became the accepted practice -- managing scenic parks for the public to enjoy, but with little understanding of the ecological consequences. To those in charge, it seemed that as long as development did not seriously affect the scenery, the parks would remain “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations,” as Congress had mandated.

 

Ecological Concerns

 

By the mid-1920s, park biologists realized that flora and fauna are parts of vast, interrelated ecological complexes. Yet so low was the National Park Service’s regard for research-based scientific management that when the service’s natural science programs finally got under way in 1929, they did so only with the private funds of a wealthy Park Service biologist, George M. Wright. The Park Service soon began funding his programs, but the growing influence of the biologists led by Wright diminished dramatically following his untimely death in an automobile accident early in 1936.

 

Nearly three decades passed before the biologists -- contending with a tradition-bound Park Service -- could truly renew their efforts to influence park management. This time, support came from outside the service. A 1963 National Academy of Sciences report sharply criticized the Park Service, calling for management to begin using intensive scientific research to assure preservation of the parks’ ecological systems. The academy described the parks as a “system of interrelated plants, animals, and habitat” and urged that they be regarded as “biological banks.” The report made clear that management chiefly preoccupied with maintaining scenery was not sufficient.

 

Also in 1963, a special advisory committee chaired by University of California professor A. Starker Leopold, one of the leading biologists of his time, issued what was the most influential statement on park management since the 1916 act establishing the National Park Service. The Leopold Report emphasized the need for improved ecological management and advocated that each of the large natural parks should present a “vignette of primitive America.” The natural communities of life within each park, it stated, should be “maintained or, where necessary, re-created as nearly as possible in the condition that prevailed when the area was first visited by the white man.”

 

This approach reflected an awareness of the great ecological changes wrought by European Americans and their technology. Where feasible in the large natural parks, ecological restoration would seek to reverse the changes. The Leopold Report thus laid the foundations for a merger of facade management with ecological management. The primitive scene to be recaptured would be valued as much for its increased ecological integrity as for its physical beauty. Underlying this effort was the urgent sense that although the parks’ majestic scenery would last, their biological diversity would not survive without a change in approach.

 

The Leopold Report’s long-lasting influence stemmed in part from its persuasive presentation of complex ecological issues. Even more subtly, however, its vision of a primitive America touched romantic and patriotic chords, suggesting a kind of “From the New World” fantasy -- the parks as virgin land. The Park Service earnestly wanted to believe in this vision and present it to the public. It struck close to the deepest cultural reasons for the very existence of the parks -- the romantic nationalism that has always underlain the public’s support of the parks, with the remnant frontier landscapes of high mountains and vast open spaces as powerful geographical symbols of national origins and national destiny.

 

The Leopold Report bolstered the efforts of Park Service biologists to change certain management practices. Through research-based fire management practices, parks attempted to approximate the effects of natural wildfire. Park managers also terminated insect-spraying programs and gave native predators greater protection. And they sought to reduce populations of especially destructive exotic species, while reintroducing vanished native species.

 

Natural resource management in the parks also benefited from congressional initiatives, including the Wilderness Act (1964) and the Endangered Species Act (1973). These and other laws, particularly the National Environmental Policy Act (1969), helped improve national park management and opened up the Park Service’s practices to much greater scrutiny, including public involvement in park planning.

 

Yet the environmental movement of the 1960s and 1970s, including the Leopold and National Academy reports, failed to alter substantially the bureau’s traditional priorities of maintaining the scenic facade of nature. Repeated calls for expanded research programs, essential for sound ecological management, received insufficient support from the Park Service, Congress, or the public, beyond the environmental community.

 

The Natural Resource Challenge

 

In the late 20th century, with growing threats such as global warming, population expansion, and habitat destruction, the worldwide reduction of biological diversity brought into sharper focus the concept of national parks as ecological laboratories and “gene pools.” Scientists and increasingly broad segments of the American public viewed the national parks as important to the ecological health of the planet -- as reservoirs of genetic material and islands of naturalness, bulwarks against irreversible change or loss of species.

 

In 1997, I published Preserving Nature in the National Parks: A History -- at times a highly critical analysis of the National Park Service’s natural-resource management over the decades. In response, the Park Service almost immediately began planning a new and ambitious natural resource initiative, known as the Natural Resource Challenge. Announced in August 1999, the initiative quickly gained bipartisan congressional support, which continues today. Cumulatively, the challenge amounts to far and away the greatest increase in scientific natural resource management funding and staffing in Park Service history.

 

Truly comprehensive in scope, the challenge acquires, applies, and disseminates scientific knowledge to professionals and to the general public in pursuit of natural resource goals and for the betterment of both parks and society. Among its specific elements are accelerated programs for inventorying of parks’ native species, both terrestrial and aquatic; monitoring changes in their condition; and protecting and restoring endangered populations while removing non-native species. The challenge also calls for enhanced air and water monitoring. Building park staffs to achieve these and other goals has been critical, as has improving opportunities for the public to enjoy and learn about park natural resources and their preservation.

 

The Natural Resource Challenge opened a new era in national park management. An unprecedented degree of understanding and cooperation has grown between facade management and science-based management in the national parks. Significantly, it moves the Park Service toward a better position to confront the gathering environmental threats of this century. Finally, in the congressional and National Park Service realms, and indeed in the collective American perception, the challenge’s focus on the integrity of the parks’ natural environments has helped secure a broader, more ecologically inclusive interpretation of the original 1916 congressional mandate to leave the national parks “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

 

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. government.

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