Beware paradigm creep and buzzword mutation

Park, A.

The Forestry Chronicle 87(3): 337-344


DOI: 10.5558/tfc2011-023
Accession: 068507419

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The world of forest management is awash in buzzwords and acronyms—ecosystem-based management, adaptive management, Triad, emulation of natural disturbance (END), and latterly—resilience. Resilience is the concept du jour, and is increasingly employed as a catch-all term for a variety of management goals. There is peril in making excessive use of buzzwords as stand-ins for the complex goals that are the real target of forest management. In this paper, I explore the consequences of buzzword mutation, which leads to paradigm creep—the use of buzzwords far beyond their original sphere of application. Such inappropriate use threatens to dilute the meaning of the original metaphor and makes talking clearly about the legitimate targets of forest management more difficult. I use "sustainable development" as an exemplar of a buzzword that has mutated into uselessness. I then compare the descent of sustainable development with current trends in the use of "resilience", and offer some guidelines for rescuing this term from a similar fate.