Posted by: chrismaser | December 3, 2021




Lynette de Silva and Chris Maser

Foreword of the book:

In an increasingly globalized and interconnected world, societies have become less resilient with respect to water resources. Long-term developments such as population growth, urbanization, increasing standards of living and related consumption, natural resource degradation and pollution as well as the impacts of climate change, have resulted in numerous impacts on water resources. As a result, their availability in the long term is at the risk of becoming unsustainable. Decision making on how to manage, allocate and use them has become progressively complex as diversity of views on what should be sustained and how, and over what period of time, differ across sectors and actors, and vary over time.

Resolving Water Conflicts Workbook focuses on social and environmental sustainability. It is rich in examples and reflections. It analyses in depth how institutions, legal and policy instruments, as important as they are in terms of governance, are many times slow to respond, with the consequent negative impacts on disadvantaged populations. The case studies are robust and present in detail short- and long-term effects of human activities and institutional responses on specific sectors of society and on the environment on which their livelihoods depend.

The text transmits the urgency to develop frameworks to manage water resources that are more comprehensive such as river basin management and integrated water resources management. As certain as this is, these paradigms have not delivered so far what has been expected from them because of political, policy and administrative constraints in most of the world. Time has come for institutions to identify the advantages of these paradigms in practice, the reasons why their implementation has been hampered, and either addressed the concerns or change the paradigms to more practical ones.

Finally, the workbook emphasizes the relevance of using water conflict management frameworks to build trust, improve understanding of common problems and possible alternatives as well as encourage collaboration. It is rightly argued that this is essential to move forward and transform conflicts into opportunities for cooperation. Approaches that are more comprehensive and that take into consideration broader aspects of development are needed.

Dr Cecilia Tortajada, Professor in practice, School of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Glasgow, UK



“This helpful workbook teases out some of the deep complexities of water conflicts through rich, wide-ranging, international case studies. Anchored by ‘four stages of water conflict transformation,’ the authors offer us a useful framework to expand our thinking about and responses to water conflicts. The holistic focus on relationships, culture, governance, and sustainability makes this an especially useful book for practical application as well as academic study.”

Dr. Scott Jones
Co-Director, Mind the Gap Research & Training, Scotland;
Associate Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies, Bjørknes University College, Oslo

“Water physically flows from upstream to downstream, from one farmer to another, and from one country to another. Water also flows conceptually across value systems that differ between individuals, societies and states. The authors of this inciteful volume provide multiple case studies demonstrating how dispute resolution practices, conflict management frameworks, and indigenous knowledge can be used to turn the complexity of water’s physical and conceptual flow into healthier outcomes for societies and the water environments on which they depend.”

Dr. Mark Giordano
Professor, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service,
Washington, D.C.


Resolving Water Conflicts Workbook 2021. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.If you want more information about this book or want to purchase it, visit “BOOKS” on my website.

Quoted material from book text © by Chris Maser. 2021. All rights reserved.

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Posted by: chrismaser | November 19, 2021


With the warming trend of late May 1961 and the quiet melting of the snow along where the southern edge of the talus meets the meadow, western spring beauties and avalanche lilies begin to awaken from their winter sleep. Their arousal is accompanied by the first, tiny roots extending themselves into the rich soil from whence they draw life’s nourishment.

As the days continue to lengthen and the snow to melt, delicate tips of leaves become visible as tiny, green protrusions through decaying, straw-colored grasses of a bygone summer. Gradually, they reach infinitesimally higher and wider until they are joined by the first flower buds of the season, their tender stems reaching toward the life-giving light of the sun.

The stems continue to grow taller and the buds larger. Finally, the last vestige of snow disappears from the small, exposed areas flooded with new warmth. It is here that the first buds of the western spring beauty open and expose their small, oval, five-petaled blossoms of pink, with their accentuated notched tips and darker longitudinal lines. Within days, the six-petaled avalanche lilies open to mirror the color of the sun’s brilliant, yellow sphere, while their slender petals curl gently backward. Thus, the first flowers of spring adorn the meadow.

Meanwhile, activity deep within the snow-covered talus begins to increase during the second week of March, when the rock rabbits become sexually aroused. Although I will refer to them as “rock rabbits” because they belong to the scientific Order that includes rabbits and hares, their most frequently used name is “pika,” from their Mongolian name, which is properly pronounced “peeka.”

An adult rock rabbit, weighing a little more than five ounces, is about eight inches long, including its tiny, inconspicuous tail. Its broad, rounded ears, a little less than an inch in width, are blackish with a distinct white margin. The soles of the feet are covered with rather stiff, woolly hair, which gives it excellent traction on and over the rocks of its home and the ability to move silently. The soft fur on the upper parts of its body is uniform reddish-brown, slightly darkened over the back by black-tipped hairs, whereas the belly is tannish and the throat reddish-brown.

Largely intolerant of one another’s proximity throughout much of the year, the breeding season relaxes their usual social barriers. Although three feet of snow still covers the talus, the long, inviting “songs” of the males and the short, answering calls of the females herald the onset of breeding. This is a period when adult males and females with adjoining territories form mated pairs.

One particular female has several opportunities, because the territories of four males surround hers. On the 5th of April, she selects a male with whom to breed. As the pregnancy evolves, she begins to feel the babies moving inside her, and this sense of the living presences grows stronger until the 5th of May when she settles into her nest of vegetation situated in a snug crevice two feet below the rocky surface of the talus. Here she waits for half an hour. Then, one of three little miracles of life begin to appear, each born blind and scantily furred, weighing about three-tenths of an ounce but with fully erupted, visible teeth.

With her newborn babies tucked safely in the nest, the mother ventures to the meadow’s edge to eat, where she, like all the pikas, selects plants that have the most calories, proteins, fats, and water. After eating for about two hours, she returns to nurse her young, thereafter going to the meadow again for another meal. This is a rhythm she will maintain all day, every day until her youngsters are weaned. For their part, the growing babies open their eyes on the 14th of May and become independent on May 28th, about the same time as they are weaned. With the breeding season now over for the female, she again practices mutual intolerance of the male, as her youngsters emerge from the inner protection of the talus. While they stay in the general area in which they are born, the new generation avoids their relatives as much as possible.

The cirque and its surrounding meadow—the setting for this population of pikas—are bathed in the sunlight of mid-June, while the blue of the sky is reflected in the water of its small lake nestled between the cliff and the moraines. These are ridges of loosely accumulated glacial debris about 20 feet high and 43 feet wide that embrace the east and west sides of the lake, extending outward from the cliff some 200 feet.

At the south end of the lake, where the stream flows out of the cirque’s bowl, there is a small band of streamside soil that hosts mountain willows and a sparse carpet of herbaceous vegetation in various shades of green and brown that earlier in the year displayed the pink of spring beauties and the yellow of glacier lilies. The sides of the cirque have been somewhat softened in outline over the centuries by rocks of various sizes breaking off the steep cliffs and accumulating at the bottom in curved slopes, forming the now-clearly-visible talus of the pikas’ territory.

Along the bottom of this sloping mass of loose rocks, where it joins the meadow, are small islands of finer material that pass for soil and support a meager variety of plants, such as green parsley fern, the creamy-yellow blossoms and pale-green leaves of the succulent stonecrop, and the bright yellow blossoms and dark-green leaves of cinquefoil. Where the talus meets the meadow on the south side of the cirque, there is an abundance of herbaceous vegetation surrounding the base of the rocky rubble, including mountain willows, some of which are three to four feet tall and almost as wide.

If you were here in this mountainous serenity in June and sat quietly atop a boulder to watch and listen, you would soon hear the nasal waaa, waaa, waaa, oink, waaa of a rock rabbit, and then another, as here and there they magically appear in the midst of sun-drenched boulders. The call is usually made from the top of a rock, where you might see a small curve and a pair of tiny, black eyes watching you, or from the doorway of a cavern between rocks. And occasionally, there is a faint call from deep within the pika’s rocky fortress.

Later, as a silent observer, it is possible to hear a trill of alarm and catch a small, reddish-brown blur, as a rabbit dives into the protection of the nearest crevice. The rabbits are alert, keen of sight and hearing, and quick to dive into the depths of the talus at the first hint of danger. But, to see these wee creatures scampering silently and deftly over the roughest rocks on fur-cushioned feet, you would have to either catch a flicker of movement out of the corner of your eye or be able to pick out the white margin of a small, round ear that is somehow out of place in this high, mountain world of jags and angles.

From now to early autumn, they can be seen from sunup to mid-morning and from mid-afternoon until dusk, although some activity seems to be ongoing during all hours. Their nighttime activity is known to be confined to the safety of the talus and consists mostly of calling, a vocalization that alerts other pikas to an impending danger. Nighttime disturbances are instantly noted and immediately challenged vocally. During the breeding season, territorial calls are given on bright, moonlit nights throughout the talus.

When active in the open, they use lookout stations between their home areas and the meadow, where they gather vegetation to carry back to their portion of the talus. The adult rabbits emerge from the rocky depths with the growing light of day to make their way to the meadow. Once there, they begin gathering mouthful after mouthful of vegetation and transport the bounty to their own territories within the talus to be stored under the protective cover of the boulders. Making more than 200 trips, this “hay gathering,” which tends to consist of forbs and tall grasses for what is termed “haypiles,” will continue until the beginning of November, unless a heavy, early snow makes the vegetation of the meadow temporarily inaccessible. These highly adaptable denizens of the cirque find no discomfort in either the heat of summer or the cold of winter, due to the fact that they keep cool deep in their rocky caverns during the hottest of days and warm in their snug nests deep under the snow during the coldest of nights.

Rock rabbits eat a wide variety of plants, including parsley fern, stonecrops, grasses, sedges, thistles, fireweed, and shrubs, although subalpine lupine
is especially favored. They harvest the wide variety of plants in a deliberate sequence that corresponds to their seasonal pattern of growth. It seems they have an inborn aptitude to assess the nutritional value of available food and harvest it accordingly, selecting those plants that have the highest caloric content, the most protein and fatty substance, as well as the most water. Their eating is characteristically rabbit-like in that a large leaf is seized at the tip and drawn into the mouth with rapid chewing motions, without the assistance of their forefeet, because Nature did not design a pika’s feet to manipulate objects.

The rabbits busy themselves in carrying one mouthful of vegetation after another from the meadow to their home areas, where it will provide their primary source of nutrition during the winter, as well as new vegetation for nests. Although they usually store enough hay for over 300 days of food, they normally use about 175 days of their supply in a given winter. An individual’s storage area often forms a complex of haypiles, some of which may grow so large they eventually spill out of the internal confines of the talus and become visible in the openings among the rocks. They do not, however, use the same storage areas every year. Despite how the haypiles are moved around over the years, they continue to form the center of the rock rabbits’ social organization.

In addition to the haypiles, rock rabbits also produce soft, black, shiny strings of feces that form in the caecum, which is a pouch-like structure between the small and large intestine. The caecum is a specialized adaptation of the digestive system that allows the rabbits to effectively digest non-fibrous sugars but quickly exclude from their digestive tracts the relatively indigestible fiber in their diet, while simultaneously allowing digestion of readily fermented, highly complex sugars. Therefore, because caecal pellets have more energy value than their stored plant food in a haypile, the rabbits either consume them directly or store them for later.

A male’s trips to the meadow are periodically interrupted by chasing other rabbits for trespassing in his territory, being chased for trespassing in another’s territory, calling, periods of observation, grooming, and heeding predator alerts sounded by rabbits elsewhere in the talus. In turn, he defends his own specific area against the trespass of others by vocalizing, chasing trespassers, fighting, and marking his territory by rubbing secretions on strategic rocks from well-developed chin glands. Another vital task is his depositing of small, hard, brown fecal pellets in certain locations to mark his territorial boundaries.

Now mid-June, with haying in full progress, young rock rabbits continue to appear on the surface of the talus for about a week after they emerge to practice and display their first territorial behavior—high-pitched calls. Within two weeks, the calls of the young are indistinguishable from those of the adults, who become intolerant of the youngsters. Soon after they become independent of parental care, this new generation of rock rabbits seek territories of their own that ignites yet more competition.

There is a clear difference between the male’s territory and his home range. His territory, which accounts for just over half of the total area he uses on a daily basis, is that part of his home range he defends against the intrusion of other rock rabbits, such as the area around his nest and haypiles, as well as his route to and from the meadow and the quality of the vegetation in his designated “hay field.” The rest of the area he normally uses (called the “home range”) can be shared. Nevertheless, the distance between a male and his neighbors is greatest during the haying season of early and mid-summer, but shrinks as late summer and autumn brings haying to an end. And, it is during the waning days of autumn that the collective rabbit community fills the airwaves of the talus with waaa, waaa, waaa, oink, waaa.

The pikas have been a continuous inhabitant of the talus throughout the centuries, a legacy that greeted me for the first time in 1961, as I explored and wandered in solitude through the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. Then, in 1967, while conducting field research at 11,500 feet up in the Himalayas of Nepal, I heard a familiar, gladdening sound. Sitting quietly, I slowly looked around, and there amidst the green vegetation surrounding my field camp was a shape I remembered with heart-felt joy—that of a pika.


Excerpted section from “The Natural History of a Mountain Meadow and Its Cirque, 2015, Luminare Press, Eugene, OR. 425pp. © by Chris Maser 2021. Initial photo of rock rabbit courtesy of Rollie Geppert. Photos of the lateral moraine, Oregon stonecrop, and rock rabbit in the Oregon Cascades by Chris Maser. Other photos gratefully used from Wikimedia Commons. All rights reserved.

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If you want more information about this book or want to purchase it, visit “BOOKS” on my website.

If you want to contact me, you can visit my website. If you wish, you can also read an article about what is important to me and/or you can listen to me give a presentation.

The piece below was initially posted by Zane Maser.


The following short section (pages 73-75) is from the 2015 book, “Toward A Natural Forest: The Forest Service in Transition.” It is a memoir by Jim Furnish who was the Forest Supervisor of the Siuslaw National Forest in Corvallis, Oregon, as well as the agency’s Deputy Chief in Washington, D.C. This brief glimpse shows a pivotal, transitional, wrenchingly illuminative experience in his 34-year career, a turning point that shifted his frame of reference, his self-honesty, and set his feet on a truer path toward the inclusion of the forest ecosystem as a whole, living, sustainable complex. He began to see with “new eyes.”

“A Glimpse of the Future”

“John Kirkpatrick had roots in the Southwest Region (Arizona and New Mexico), as did his old friend John Bedell, the supervisor of the Carson National Forest. About 1986, these two instituted an annual tri-forest meeting of leadership teams, to include the Rio Grande National Forest and its supervisor, Tom Quinn.

These meetings included field trips and discussions on issues of the day—everything from heap-leach gold mining to bear hunting to grazing issues. The teams made good professional connections and enjoyed stimulating talk. The Carson bunch hosted our second event, and we headed indoors for a presentation in Farmington, New Mexico after a couple of days outdoors.

The presenter was Chris Maser, a former researcher with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from Oregon, who, near as I could tell, now devoted himself to writings and lecturing about his forest research. Maser gave a lengthy and very detailed lecture and slide show about how forests of the Pacific Northwest function.

I sat enraptured as Maser talked about old-growth forests, squirrels and their poop, fungal spores, mycorrhizae (fungi that grow alongside tree roots to dramatically improve a tree’s uptake of water and soil nutrients), lichens, soil-dwelling insects, forest productivity, and by inference, how just about every aspect of our forest management approach was naïve and simplistic—in a word, wrong. Forests were incredibly complex biotic systems, Maser said. Simple notions of ‘just managing trees’ actually involved significant risk of upsetting the delicate balance of important forest relationships.

I found myself aware that Maser was challenging my own simple notions. This made me both irked and curious.

To begin with, I was ignorant of virtually everything he was talking about (also true, I suspect, for other Forest Service leaders in the room). Maser made a compelling case. If it was true, his conclusions damned the Forest Service. Supporting management with credible science should be the stock in trade of any competent natural resource agency. Yet how can you apply what you do not know or understand?

And so, here I sat in a Forest Service meeting, my head exploding and my heart aching with shame. Many wanted to disagree with Maser, but the credibility of his scientific evidence disarmed them.

I realized that I had relied on what the agency spoon-fed me in various training sessions, and sadly, that I’d spent little time exercising my responsibility in the professional discipline of independently pursuing knowledge. John Bedell, who was moderating the conference, enjoyed the role of provocateur and relished Maser working our brains with an eggbeater. A wild-eyed discussion ensued about the implication of Maser’s message.

I went back in my memory, reviewing the bumps and struggles I’d experienced during the past few years just trying to do my job. I thought about things I’d seen that didn’t add up. The worn-out grazing lands on the Bighorn. The ferocious pressure to ‘get the cut out’ even when the forest couldn’t sustain it. The gadfly environmentalists that seemed to delight in strewing our path with lawsuits. Now, I recalled, there was a controversary brewing in the Pacific Northwest over a shy, innocent spotted owl.

I realized these issues weren’t random and unconnected, but part of a larger reality that we were beginning to perceive. They were like icebergs—not especially menacing until one fully considered the larger threat below the surface. Internally, the Forest Service heard recurrent, insistent voices from many of our best and most credible resource specialists that the agency was ignoring important science that pointed to environmental problems. I’d seen for myself examples where our management wasn’t matching our science.

Could that be the reason for the public’s growing disenchantment with how we were managing their treasured national forests? Were we that far out of sync with what people, especially some of our own agency experts, believed and valued?

I found myself drifting toward increasing doubt about the merits of our logging policy and practice on national forests. What did the Forest Service owe the timber industry? The general public? The agency seemed to bow and scrape to a largely ungrateful commercial interest, even as the timber industry’s power and influence diminished sharply. Furthermore, strong similarities existed in the agency’s relationship with a ranching industry whose livestock grazed vast areas of public lands in the West.

What was of ultimate value to the public whose land the Forest Service was privileged to manage? I didn’t think the general public viewed commerce on national forests as our top priority. But if they wanted changes, what were we to become? I wasn’t certain how to answer that, but I sure thought it had something to do with the Forest Service managing lands with a stronger, more humble environmental ethic.”


Chris Maser is the author of “The Redesigned Forest,” “Forest Primeval,” “Sustainable Forestry,” “Our Forest Legacy,” “Social-Environmental Planning: The Design Interface Between Everyforest and Everycity,” “Mammals of the Pacific Northwest,” and a co-author of “Trees, Truffles, and Beasts.”


Short Writings from Chris Maser and other posts that include him:

• Forests as Our Spiritual Inheritance   (excerpt from Chris’ classic, “The
      Redesigned Forest”)

• Earth Day 2012   (includes a few quotes from Chris’ books)

• The Essence Of Spiritual Ecology   (about environmental mystics, written       by Chris)

• The Marys River of My Youth—Eternally Flowing   (a natural history book
      about Chris’ growing up in Corvallis)

• One Small Nudge affects the Whole World   (a brief look at the life       journey of Chris)

• Eternity And The Banishment Of Fear   (an excerpt from Chris’
      “Conversations with Fear”)

• Spiritual Essence of Stabilitas   (an excerpt from Chris’ book, “The World
      Is In My Garden”)

• In Emptiness Is Spiritual Fulfillment   (an excerpt from “The World Is       In My Garden”)

• Self-Emptying Meditation   (an excerpt from “The World Is In My

• The Planet Of Dyslexia   (in part about Chris’ dyslexia and generally about
      the learning disorder of dyslexia, as well as the number of famous
      people who have greatly struggled with dyslexia)


SunnyCat site post and photo of Chris Maser © by Zane Maser, 2021. Vertical old growth forest photo and clearcut © Chris Masers. Quoted paragraphs © Jim Furnish, “Toward A Natural Forest: The Forest Service in Transition,” pages 73-75, Oregon State University Press, 2015. Photos gratefully used from Wikimedia Commons. All 2009-2021 rights of Zane Maser and SunnyCat Astrology reserved worldwide.

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Posted by: chrismaser | May 14, 2021


So long as a tree shall stand or the wind shall blow, so long as the grass shall grow, so will my Spirit remain on this Mother Earth. When I die I would be laid to rest on a mountain side, unclothed, for to me it is home. Here can I look over the valley to the mountains in the distance, where the voices of my loved ones shall sing forever. Mayhap there will be a small cross, carved out of wood, but this is just the beginning. From this small plot shall I rise again in each tree or blade of grass that grows or each flower that blooms. As the ovary ripens, the seed is blown by the wind; so shall I wander from that small plot, once again to seek nourishment at the bosom of my Mother.

If an insect or animal, however small, should feed on that tree, grass, or bloom, even so shall they sing with a voice full of the life and love that I once felt for this land. As the eagle swoops on that animal so shall my heart once again sing with the freedom and strength that it once knew on this Earth.

If a stream should chance to plant its course across that plot, so shall I once again see the greatness of the seas. Here am I not alone, for always shall I see the sun rise and see the sun set.

May I grow as straight and strong as that tree and have roots as deep as that grass. May I bloom as brilliantly as that flower; so shall I forever thank the Great Spirit whose hand guided me straight on that narrow and twisted path.

Someday the bones of a Lobo will lie bleaching in some hidden mountain park, there to return to the Earth from whence they came, for he has but borrowed, and must now return, what the Earth has given him, so be it with all men.

When someday you stand on a mountain top and look over the valleys and forests and know your God, then look to the West for there shall be a Lobo standing beside you, and so shall He always be there when you need him.

Prayer written in 1959 and photo of Three Sisters © by Chris Maser, 2021. Photo of wolf by Jon Glittenberg from Wikimedia Commons. All 2009-2021 rights of Chris Maser reserved worldwide.

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Chris Maser

Foreword of the book:

I was the proverbial fish out of water when I arrived in Corvallis, Oregon, in the fall of 1968 to begin my career as a graduate student in the zoology department at Oregon State University. I knew what research I wanted to do for my doctoral dissertation, which would involve extensive field work searching for Pacific Giant Salamanders. Being from the desert regions of the Snake River plains in southern Idaho, however, I didn’t know much about the coniferous forests of western Oregon, where I wanted to begin my search for populations of the big salamanders. Despite that, I had heard stories from professors at my previous university in Washington state about a nearly mythical guy who lived in the Corvallis area and who was associated with forestry and biological sciences at Oregon State University. His name was Chris Maser, and he was part mountain man, part field biologist, and a scholar who published papers on a wide variety of topics in the broad field of natural history. I was advised to contact him if I wanted to learn anything about the forests of western Oregon, including where to find salamanders.

Well, unfortunately, I have to make this long story short, so here goes. I was soon introduced to Chris and found him to be a formidable but accommodating character. I explained to him that I needed to find many populations of the salamander in order to do my intended work on the diversity and evolution of the species. To my delight, I learned that he not only knew the habitat of the Pacific Giant Salamander but also knew quite a lot about them … a surprise, because I thought he was primarily a mammologist. Chris offered to provide suggestions to where I might find my salamanders in the Coastal and Cascades Mountains of Oregon. But, he told me that he was a mite busy at the moment, compiling information for various projects, and he suggested that I accompany him on one or two of his field trips, so that I might start to become familiar with the forests of western Oregon.

He first suggested that we go look for tree mice and try to capture some for study. Tree mice?? I had never heard of such critters and wondered if he was yarning me. The idea of mice living way up in trees just didn’t seem right to me. But, it turned out he was serious. At McDonald Forest, just north of Corvallis, Chris found sign of red tree mice (actually voles of the species Arborimus longicaudus) near a tall Douglas fir tree, and he proposed that I climb up and drive the vole, or voles, down the tree, and he would catch them. Whoa … he wanted me to climb up to near the top of a Douglas fir and scare down a small rodent … me … a flatlander who had never climbed a conifer before in my life and certainly not one that was well over 100 feet tall … and me with more than a touch of acrophobia! As I walked around the tree looking up near the top and getting a little bit dizzy, I glanced over at Chris who was looking at me from beneath the brim of his battered cowboy/mountain man hat with what I later learned was an expression of wry amusement. It suddenly dawned on me that this was a sort of test and that I better not fail. As I clung precariously to the trunk of the tree some 80 to 100 feet above ground, I had no idea what to do to cause the tree voles to descend, but I did something right; and Chris was able to capture one of the desired, beautiful voles as it ran down the tree ahead of me. When I returned shakily to mother earth, Chris gave me a big smile and a couple of slight nods of his head accompanied with a soft click of his cheek, and I knew I had passed the test.

Subsequently, Chris was of enormous help in providing me with information and inspiration that guided me with my field research for my dissertation. We became friends and colleagues and published two short notes together in 1969 (“Water Shrews preying on larvae of the Pacific Giant Salamander”) and 1975 (“Food habits of Bobcats in the forests of western Oregon”) and a third, more substantial report in 1978 with James Trappe on the importance of small mammals in the dispersal of root mycorrhizal fungi in the coniferous forests of Oregon.

Chris has lived and worked in many countries and has written or coauthored 43 books and over 250 papers on natural history and conservation that are of great interest. He is also busy on the lecture circuit and has presented many seminal lectures, mainly on conservation issues, all over the world. Readers might want to visit his website currently at

This book is an important, almost necessary, chapter in the saga of Chris Maser. It tells the story of his youth, growing up in the environs of the Marys River in the southern Willamette Valley of Oregon. In the book, Chris pays homage to his childhood friend, Billy Savage, with whom he explored a ditch, cow pasture, and stream near Billy’s home southwest of Corvallis. There is a poignant moment when entering the 6th grade, Chris learns that his friend had died. Chris’s poetic words, steeped in the loss of his beloved friend, describing their time together exploring the ditch, cow pasture, and stream of their youth, are beautiful and mesmerizing. It becomes clear that Billy was instrumental in sharing nature with and further helping Chris along his trajectory to becoming a fiercely independent thinker and highly competent naturalist of the John Muir ilk. It is hard to be around Chris for long without being reminded of the mountain men who were at one with nature during the opening of the American West.

Chris does not dwell on the loss of his friend, but instead celebrates his life by writing a book that is a highly personal and detailed account of the riverine habitats and the wildlife Chris later encountered along “The Marys River of [his] Youth”—after Billy’s death. Chris gives us a remarkable picture of the life histories of 76 species of animals and their diverse occupancy, or niches, in and around the river, the forest, and the slough through the seasons and a portrait of the changes in these environments through time. The species include mammals, both large and small, birds ranging in variety from soaring raptors, such as the Golden Eagle, to graceful waterfowl, to the smallest of woodland songbirds, like the Bushtit. Also, included among the vertebrates are amphibians, like the Rough-Skinned Newt and the Pacific Tree Frog, and reptiles, such as the Pond Turtle, Southern Alligator Lizard, and Sharp-Tailed Snake.

Furthermore, animals without backbones (invertebrates) were included in Chris’s scrutiny as he explored these interconnecting habitats night and day, himself becoming one of the “creatures” of this magical place. He describes the appearance and lives of pearlshell mussels, earthworms, pseudoscorpions, hymenoptera (wasps, hornets, and yellowjackets), and water skaters (striders) with the clarity and beauty that only a skilled observer of nature can accomplish. Included as a fascinating aside is a mini-treatise on the “evolutionary miracle” of the birds’ eggs, which will undoubtedly change forever the reader’s perception of what an egg is all about.

Chris’s descriptions of these animals and their ways are precious in that he writes with the soul and intimacy of a man who is practically one with these creatures that he so clearly loves. The book is based primarily on Chris’s personal knowledge of these species and their changing environment through the seasons, but he also includes information about them that he has gleaned from his later scientific research and from the literature, when it is appropriate. And, sadly, the book is also an invaluable documentary of a natural world that no longer exists in its pristine state. One need only view the Marys River, as it is today in the area near Corvallis, to see the truth in that.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in natural history, especially to those who are interested in the fauna of the Pacific Northwest. Those who have read others of Chris Maser’s books will certainly want to read this one, as it describes a small glimpse into the beginnings of Chris Maser.

Ronald A. Nussbaum, Professor and Curator, Emeritus, Research Museums Center, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI


“I worked as a forest wildlife biologist for the U.S. Forest Service and also in other fields in natural resources (fire, range management, forestry, and engineering) for agencies and conservation organizations over the past 30- plus years. I have learned so much from Chris Maser’s works and they have guided my efforts and understanding over the years. His way of connecting and communicating key ecological concepts has been far ahead of the curve. He is a true leader and a great mentor.

“As an admirer, it is such a joy and special gift to get to experience his youth with him in this book and learn wonderful things about species natural history that I have never taken the time to get to know in such depth. His stories describe how he connected and maintained an amazing relationship with the natural world as a kid and the precious gifts it gave to bravely walk a very difficult, but vita, path for rest of his life. It is incredible the depth and breadth of what Chris observed and learned. Seeing how he put himself so fully in it and the joy of what he got to see and experience from it was like experiencing it myself every bit of the way. It even made me feel like a kid again getting to know the natural world with him. It is a wonderful example of how the natural world touches us and gives us the substance we need to become great people. ‘Now, come with me into yesteryear and rest peacefully for a while along the banks of the river of my youth.’ This book is relaxing and fun, like reoccurring walks in nature with a marvelous naturalist friend.”

Cindy Haws
Myrtle Creek, Oregon

“This book is a tale of the Marys River, a tributary of the Willamette River in Oregon which flows generally southeast from the Central Oregon Coast Range to Corvallis, Oregon. Chris Maser, a long-time resident of Corvallis, begins The Marys River of My Youth as a memoir of his boyhood with his close friend, Billy Savage. After Billy died at age 12, Chris found the river and spent many hours intrigued by the animals that lived along the it. Through the fascination of a youth, we begin to know what lived on or near the riverbanks and in the river, itself. His witty recollections of his adventures with Billy and the animals they encountered, prior to his finding the river, are heartwarming and often hilarious, particularly when they encountered ‘Stinky.’

“Along the way, his in-depth descriptions of the inhabitants in the river and along its banks, include their physical descriptions, behavioral patterns, nesting habits, and lifecycles. His descriptions are so thorough, the reader gains a substantial body of knowledge. Whether it walks, crawls, flies, slithers or swims, the information is interesting, informative and detailed.

“Today the river has changed drastically due to the impact of increased human population; most of the animals still exist, although perhaps not along or in that portion of the river Chris knew.

“Chris has devoted his life to learning about the Earth we inhabit and to teaching others. His insights and appreciation of the life that surrounds us are invaluable and thought provoking, especially in today’s times. He encourages each of us to consider our impact on the sustainability of our amazing world.”

Kathleen LaFrance
Cheney, Washington

The Marys River of My Youth: A Natural History of Its Seen and Unseen Life 2019. Luminare Press, Eugene, OR If you want more information about this book or want to purchase it, visit “BOOKS” on my website.

Quoted material from book text © by Chris Maser. 2019. All rights reserved.

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Posted by: chrismaser | August 31, 2019




Cameron La Follette and Chris Maser (editors)

Editor’s Note for the “CRC Press” Book Series, Social-Environmental Sustainability:

In reading this book, keep in mind that Nature functions perfectly without any human “help” or intervention, which means Nature’s value is entirely intrinsic and self-reinforcing. But, the majority of people feel that Nature, as a resource, is wasted if it is not used for their benefit—hence the concept of “conversion potential.” In other words, how can a particular natural resource be converted into a commercial product for human use, thereby giving it economic value?

Here, a basic principle is that community programs must be founded on local requirements and cultural values in balance with those of the broader world, which includes understanding and acknowledging environmental issues, long-term biophysical trends, and their social-environmental ramifications. After all, social-environmental sustainability is a common relationship between people and the natural environment based on the constraints of the underlying biophysical principles that maintain the lands and waters in a sustainably productive state. Simply put, as we honor our relationship with Nature in a sustainable way, we honor all generations. As we abuse Nature by overexploitation, we abuse all generations.

Maintaining a respectful relationship with Nature—by placing its right to flourish foremost in human economics—forms a critical, worldwide nexus between the social-environmental sustainability of people in the present and those of the future. With respect to every culture worldwide, it is imperative that we take personal responsibility for our words, deeds, decisions, actions, and their consequences, because the first step toward social-environmental sustainability begins with the respect and the quality of the care we give ourselves. We must then extend that respect and care to our families, friends, neighbors, and Nature, because community sustainability is the foundation of every nation. This said, the degree of mutual caring; cooperation; and long-term, sustainability of the landscape characterizes a community and reflects the psychophysical health of its citizenry.

And, it is our humility and consent to the Rights of Nature, by prioritizing and repairing our relationship with Nature, that determines the legacy we leave—one that in today’s world either progressively liberates or progressively impoverishes all generations. The choice of how we, the adults of the world, behave is ours—either with psychological maturity and sacred humility or self-indulgence and monetary arrogance. Fortunately, our human consciousness is elevating as the Rights of Nature paradigm continues to spread in countries throughout the world—illustrated in part by courageous articles in this book.

Finally, this CRC series of books on the various facets of social-environmental sustainability is a forum wherein those who dare to seek harmony and wholeness can struggle to integrate disciplines and balance the material world with the spiritual, the scientific with the social, and in so doing expose their vulnerabilities, human frailties, and hope, as well as their visions for a good-quality, sustainable future.

As the title of this book implies, the human component of the world is critically important—but often an overlooked or blatantly ignored dimension of social-environmental sustainability. Yet, it is the integrity of the relationships among the diverse elements of any system that both defines it through its functional processes and, in obeying the Right of Nature, confers global social-environmental sustainability to all generations of life on Earth.

Chris Maser, Series Editor


























Sustainability And The Rights Of Nature: In Practice. 2019. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. If you want more information about this book or want to purchase it, visit “BOOKS” on my website.

Text © by Chris Maser 2019. All rights reserved.

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Posted by: chrismaser | March 27, 2019




Chris Maser and Lynette de Silva


There are a number of schools of thought in the mediation/facilitation world about, well, just about everything:

• Should a mediator be trained in the topic they are mediating or not? Some argue ‘no,’ what one needs to know is how to bridge human divides, and the topic itself is not central. Some argue ‘yes,’ especially when the subject matter is especially complex; that without topical expertise, one will likely miss opportunities for agreement.

• Is a successful mediation about the results or the process? Those who argue the former often suggest that whatever feathers are ruffled will smooth out with time, especially if the results are desirable to all. Those who argue the latter suggest that without healing relationships through the process, any agreement may be too fragile to last.

On these and a host of other complex dichotomies, Chris Maser and Lynette de Silva seem to answer simply, ‘yes’—all sides have value, and the dichotomies are mostly false. Perhaps because of their vast experience, both starting as scientists, then evolving to roles as mediators/teachers/trainers/researchers, their contribution with this work is not to advocate for any particular school of thought, but rather for the value in all sides of each complex setting, to be appreciated rather like the facets of a diamond.

Maser and de Silva weave together a number of important strands—environmental sustainability, resource conflict management, and the art of teaching—any of which could be a book by itself. Their contribution is not only in each of the topics—each of which is handled thoughtfully and with nuance—but more so in the linkages between each strand, which seems to be where they find the sizzle. Just read these sentences, so emblematic of their approach:

“The aim of mediation, as we practice it, is to help parties become better human beings by stimulating growth in personal consciousness, thereby transforming human character, which results in parties finding genuine solutions to their real problems. In addition, the private, non-judgmental, non-coercive character of such mediation can provide disputants a safe haven in which to humanize themselves despite the disputants having started out as fierce adversaries. This safety helps people feel and express varying degrees of understanding and concern for one another, as they grow toward greater, mutual understanding and compassion, despite their disagreement.”

The reader finds this exquisite blend of the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual worlds throughout. This wonderful work is part description of some of the world’s most seemingly intractable problems, part ethical polemic, part how-to manual, and, importantly, part how-to-teach manual. The authors are not satisfied with simply describing what’s wrong with our relationships with each other and with our environment, nor do they stop when you personally are committed to action, but they will also give you both the motivation and the tools to help others learn how to do their parts in healing these relationships as well.

This is an important, readable, thoughtful book. As they suggest, ‘ways will be explored through teaching and practice that will enable society to replace non-constructive patterns and incorporate more meaningful connections’—aspirations that are sorely needed for our difficult times, and these are the guides to help us on our way.

If Nature’s rights are to be recognized, who would have the status to defend Nature’s rights in courts or other bodies? Will it be government entities, conservation groups, or individuals? Will development in law and consciousness be limited to litigation in the courts set in place, or will there arise something new, like Nature Tribunals? And who will be the lawyers, scientists, politicians, and citizens who drive us toward a new generation of rights?

Aaron T. Wolf
Professor of Geography, Oregon State University,
Corvallis, Oregon

Editor’s Note for the “CRC Press” Book Series, Social-Environmental Sustainability:

There are two primary emotions: love and fear. All other emotional expressions are merely aspects of these two. Kindness, compassion, and patience are the hallmark of love, while impatience, anger, and violence and are the stamp of fear. Thus, where unconditional love dwells, there dwells also peace, contentment, and harmony—both inner and outer, whereas fear cannot endure. Where fear dwells, there is discord, discontent, and conflict, wherein peace cannot be found.

Conflict—like cooperation—is a choice, but one born out of one’s fear of being out of control, whether of one’s physical life, financial security, personal identity, or coveting someone else’s possessions, such as land and its recourses. Moreover, the dynamics of conflict are essentially the same, whether interpersonal, intertribal, international, or interreligious. Strife, after all, is dependent on the notion of inequality: I’m right; you’re wrong. I’m superior; you’re lesser. I belong; you don’t. This is mine to do with as I wish; it’s not yours—hands off. I want what you have, so give it to me or I’ll take it.

The challenges we humans face in today’s world are the result of unconscious, competitive, conflict-prone social conditioning, which begins at birth and ends at death. There is, however, no such thing as “right” or “wrong” in the universe, which is an all-encompassing relationship based on eternal creation and novelty, wherein all change is impersonal, neutral, and irreversible, despite the outcome.

Social conditioning, on the other hand, creates a myriad of perspectives that, in turn, spawn infinite, personal perceptions (human values), each accepted as “the truth”—from a certain point of view. The paradox is that everyone is “right” from his or her vantage point, which creates a venue of “right, right, and different.” So, the question (and the heart of conflict resolution) becomes: How do we negotiate the differences, while honoring one another’s perceptions?

This being the case, resolving a conflict is based on the art of helping people, with disparate points of view, find enough common ground to ease their fears, sheath their weapons, and listen to one another for their common good, which ultimately translates into social-environmental sustainability for all generations. As it turns out, people agree on virtually 80 percent of everything—unbeknownst to them—and disagree on 20 percent, which becomes the sole focus of their dispute. If, therefore, disputants can be helped to see and move toward the predominance of their agreement, the differences ensconced in their quarrel are more easily negotiated. Ultimately, however, it is necessary for the participants to formulate a shared vision toward which to strive, one that accommodates the personalized perceptions to everyone’s long-term benefit. Only then can the barriers among disputants dissolve into mutual respect, acceptance, and potential friendship—only then is a conflict truly resolved.

Chris Maser, Series Editor


“Lynette de Silva’s contribution brings to this new edition up-to-date educational practice for both professional development and the college classroom. The philosophical underpinnings for resolving environmental disputes benefit from the practical guidelines in this book on how to translate theory into educational practice. Two very different experts have collaborated on this important treatise.”

Dr. Susan Eriksson
Independent Educational Consultant, Eriksson Associates, LLC
Boulder, Colorado

“Whether you are a student new to the process of resolving conflicts, or an experienced practitioner, this book will speak to you with its practical examples, its consideration for all involved with a focus on a healing approach, and its different perspectives from the authors. The reader will certainly come away with a better sense of what leads to conflict, and the path forward for a sustained and peaceful collaboration.”

Janine Salwasser
Graduate of the Water Conflict Management and Transformation Program
Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon

Resolving Environmental Conflicts: Principles And Concepts. Third Edition. 2019. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. If you want more information about this book or want to purchase it, visit “BOOKS” on my website.

Quoted material from book text © by Chris Maser and Lynette de Silva. 2019. All rights reserved.

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Posted by: chrismaser | December 14, 2016




Rachel Beck, Gazette-Times, November 24, 2009

Chris Maser’s connection to the natural world is long and deep.

As a young boy, his mother tethered him to the clothesline of their southwest Corvallis home to keep him from wandering off into the woods. In later years, he spent many hours playing in a neighborhood ditch with his best friend.

“It was a marvelous place,” he said. “The ditch was filled with life. That’s where I began to understand relationships in nature.”

But whether you grew up playing in a forest or a concrete jungle, Maser wants you to care about the natural world and work to preserve it for future generations. In some form, that is the message of most his books, which number 31 and counting.

His latest, “Social-Environmental Planning: The Design Interface Between Everyforest and Everycity,” recently was published by CRC Press. It is the first book in a series on social/environmental topics. The next, about sustainable community development, will be out in January. Maser believes that the world could be better if people would take responsibility for their actions – and how those actions impact others.

Preserving the Earth for future generations will require a radical shift. People are afraid of change, he said, because they are comfortable with what they know – even if the alternative is actually much better.

Maser hopes the series he’s currently working on will help people understand what to do when they’re forced to change how they live.

One of the biggest challenges to sustainability is population, Maser said. Population control can only be achieved by honoring women and creating equality.

“Equality starts at home,” he said. “I see very little equality in this country. We give it lip service.”

“Earth in Our Care,” which was published last summer, focuses on the conflict between money and nature.

“In the money chase, we’re making war on nature,” he said. “Why? Because we’re terrified of not having enough.”

In “Trees, Truffles and Beasts,” published in 2008 by Rutgers University Press, Maser and two other authors compared a eucalyptus forest in Australia with a conifer forest in the United States, focusing on the relationship of the forest and the soil and the myriad parts of the ecosystem affected by it.

If that relationship isn’t protected, Maser said, the forests will disappear. If the forests disappear, so does the water.

“We’re doing this to ourselves,” he said. “We’re the authors of our own demise.”

Not just our own.

“Every decision we make has a trade-off,” he said. “What we have got to understand is our decisions become the children’s consequences and we don’t give them a voice. They have to live with the consequences.”

But Maser believes firmly that it can be different.

For his 2004 book, “The Perpetual Consequences of Fear and Violence: Rethinking the Future,” Maser asked fourth-graders at Harding Elementary School what they wanted the world to be like when they grew up. Answers included peace, clean air and clean water.

“There’s nothing the kids want that we can’t do,” Maser said. “What they have identified are basic human values.”

Maser has visited numerous foreign countries, but it was a trip to Mount St. Helens in 1961 that left an impression that made him want to share his thoughts with the world. He hiked into the backcountry, only to find that an area of old-growth he loved had been logged. It was disheartening, but made him realize he needed to do what he could to prevent others from experiencing the same sense of loss.

His work is a way of “just saying ‘thank you,’ by leaving the world a little better place,” he said. “By helping people understand there are other choices.

“I will live and die, writing,” he continued. “Sharing ideas and never know if I’m right. I just do the best I can.

“That’s the joy of living.”

Related Posts:

• Is World Peace Possible?

• Knowledge Is Some Version Of The Truth

• A Prime Directive For Healing The Earth

• Climbing Mt. Consciousness

• Do We Owe Anything To The Future?
— Part 1

• Do We Owe Anything To The Future? — Part 2

• Earth Is A Biological Living Trust

• Global Commonalities

• How We Participate

• Making Enough, Enough

• Why Make Life a Battlefield?

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Posted by: chrismaser | November 15, 2016




Cameron La Follette and Chris Maser



The crises of climate change and ecosystem disruption are true planetary emergencies. Given the magnitude of these problems (and many others), old thinking will not be enough. Only bold new approaches will suffice.

This wonderful book proposes a new framing that provides some questions that we need to ask—and some answers that may be the ones we need. It is not surprising that such new ideas would come from Cameron La Follette and Chris Maser.

Nearly 40 years ago, Chris Maser (a Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist at that time) helped open my eyes at a week-long “short course” in the ecology of old-growth (ancient) forests. The course was held at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest in the summer of 1978. He and other scientists associated with Oregon State University’s Department of Forestry had started to untangle the puzzles of the ancient forests, which the timber industry viewed as simply a source to be exploited and which the industry called a “biological desert.” Maser and his colleagues showed this was far from the truth.

A few months later, the Lane County Audubon Society organized a series of evening lectures on the ecology of old-growth forests. One of those lecturing was a college student named Cameron La Follette, wise beyond her years, who was in the process of publishing a small book titled “Saving All the Pieces: Old Growth Forest in Oregon.” She pointed out that the “first rule of intelligent tinkering is saving all the pieces,” a paraphrase of the advice of conservationist Aldo Leopold. Cameron later went to law school, but decided to devote her life to other ways of saving all the pieces.

Cameron and Chris have long challenged us to think in new ways. This book is their latest effort, and it is one of stunning scope. Both of them have always exhibited passionate creativity. Their thinking was indispensable to the reframing of lawsuits and politics that led to new visions of the disappearing ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest of the United States. They are now embarking on a new journey with this book—one that asks us to redesign legal approaches and reimagine the tools that we need to craft solutions. The heart of their vision involves ecosystem rights—rights for Nature itself.

In recent years, the linkages between human rights and environmental protection have been increasingly recognized around the world. Over 100 countries have embedded a right to a safe and health environment in their national constitutions—as have five states of the U.S. in their state constitutions. Books, articles, and journals are being published on “human rights and the environment.” The organization that I co-founded, the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide, has lawyers in countries all around the world who litigate and advocate on behalf of human environmental rights. But Chris and Cameron ask us to look beyond “human” rights. They ask us to look even more deeply at nature, ecology, and law.

Laws in numerous countries and international agreements have evolved to give citizens the right to file lawsuits against government bodies or polluters for causing environmental harm. United States laws since 1970 have provided for “citizen suits” in the fields of air pollution, water pollution, endangered species, and many other areas. In Europe, the Aarhus Public Participation Convention, now nearly 20 years old, states explicitly that a right to a healthy environment exists and requires that the 45 countries that have ratified or acceded to it must open their courts to citizen groups that are defending the environment, without having to prove an economic or personal interest will be affected before suing.

Various experts have talked about “legal standing” in court for natural places, about the glacial pace of environmental regulation, about the difficulty of getting political bodies to react with urgency to the loss of biodiversity and the looming tragedy of global warming. What La Follette and Maser do in this exciting book is to bring these problems together in a new synthesis and to describe a radically new solution that is already forming in a few scattered countries and cities—recognizing that Nature itself could have legal rights. They also demand a radical (that is, fundamental) understanding of true “sustainability”—not as a political or economic magic phrase, but as a truly ecological concept. They take their vision and work through its implications in a multitude of contexts. One need not subscribe to every argument they offer in this book. But one cannot read this book without opening one’s eyes to new insights and new possibilities.

When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 was drafted, there was little thought that it would apply to issues of clean water, clean air, and other environmental matters. Yet decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and other bodies have interpreted older human-rights language to extend to environmental rights for human beings. Who is to say that this process is complete—or that it must stop with “human” rights? Reading this book will raise new questions. Will Nature’s own rights—to be free from excessive and debilitating human contamination and pollution, for example—be next in the evolution of ideas? Is it possible to create a legal and sustainable order in which Nature can continue its own natural processes without its protectors being restricted to narrow, 17th-or even 20thcentury conceptions?

If Nature’s rights are to be recognized, who would have the status to defend Nature’s rights in courts or other bodies? Will it be government entities, conservation groups, or individuals? Will development in law and consciousness be limited to litigation in the courts set in place, or will there arise something new, like Nature Tribunals? And who will be the lawyers, scientists, politicians, and citizens who drive us toward a new generation of rights?

Read, admire, argue, challenge, and enjoy this statement of a new vision for Earth. And, consider ways to make this kind of vision real. The life of Planet Earth depends upon new thinking, such as this.

John E. Bonine
B.B. Kliks Professor of Law, University of Oregon
Founder, Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW)

Editor’s Note for the “CRC Press” Book Series, Social-Environmental Sustainability:

In reading this book, keep in mind that our earthscape is composed of three interactive spheres: the atmosphere (air), the litho-hydrosphere (the rock that constitutes the restless continents and the water that surrounds them), and the biosphere (the life forms that exist within and between the other two spheres). We humans have, however, arbitrarily delineated our seamless world into discrete ecosystems since the advent of agriculture, as we try to control—”manage”—the fluid interactions among the nonliving and living components of planet Earth for our material benefits. If you picture the interconnectivity of the three spheres as being analogous to the motion of a filled waterbed, you will see how patently impossible such divisions are because you cannot touch any part of a filled waterbed without affecting the whole of it.

Together, these three spheres form myriad interactive, self-reinforcing feedback loops that affect all life on Earth. It is the degree to which we humans either honor or defy the reciprocity of these feedback loops that form the legacy we leave—one that either liberates or progressively impoverishes all generations. The choice of how we, today’s adults, behave is ours—either with psychological maturity and our respectful treatment of Nature through sacred humility or continued self-indulgence through unbridled materialism, profit seeking, and their ensuing environmental violence.

Where in the United States today are there unequivocal voices that speak for protecting the sustainability and productive capacity of Nature, as our bequest to all children—present and future? Without such voices of consciousness, courage, and unconditional commitment to the Rights of Nature through the present into the future in all ranks of leadership, we, the adults, are increasingly condemning our children, grandchildren—and every generation yet unborn—to pay a progressively awful price rather than accept the sometimes-difficult choices of our adult responsibilities, as trustees of our home planet’s social-environmental integrity.

The psychologically maturity choice to become a truly peaceful society for the rest of the world to emulate requires that we, in the United States, transcend the environmental violence of our often-declared “war” on Nature. To rise above this violence, we must focus first and foremost on the “Rights of Nature” by accepting and honoring Nature’s Laws of Reciprocity with total dedication and persistence in our economic/political/legal systems and our common social systems.

Peace will reign only when there is no longer any thought of abusing Nature for personal gain. But, to eliminate this linear, economically oriented mentality, its environmental violence, and its intentional overexploitation of dwindling resources, we must shift the economic/political/legal systems from their current focus on acquiring money and power to a single, integrated, social-environmental system that fully protects and prioritizes Nature’s right to flourish as a living entity.

Finally, this CRC series of books on the various facets social-environmental sustainability is a forum wherein those who dare to seek harmony and wholeness can struggle to integrate disciplines and balance the material world with the spiritual, the scientific with the social, and in so doing expose their vulnerabilities, human frailties, and hope, as well as the wisdom of their visions for a viable future.

Chris Maser, Series Editor


Sustainability and the Rights of Nature: An Introduction is a much needed guide that addresses the exciting and significant paradigm shift to the Rights of Nature, as it is occurring both in the United States and internationally in the fields of environmental law and environmental sustainability. This shift advocates building a relationship of integrity and reciprocity with the planet by placing Nature in the forefront of our rights-based legal systems. The authors discuss means of achieving this by laying out Nature’s Laws of Reciprocity and providing a roadmap of the strategies and directions needed to create a Rights of Nature-oriented legal system that will shape and maintain human activities in an environmentally sustainable manner. This work is enriched with an array of unique and relevant points of reference, such as the feudal notions of obligation, principles of traditional indigenous cultivation, the Pope Francis Encyclical on the environment, and the new Rights of Nature-based legal systems of Ecuador and Bolivia that can serve as prototypes for the United States and other countries around the world to help ensure a future of environmental sustainability for all living systems.”

Publisher’s description


“As an avid reader, now in my seventies, I have found that only about twice a decade a book comes along that challenges the foundation of what I know and provokes me to think afresh. ‘The Rights of Nature’ is such a book. La Follette and Maser have used the lens of systems theory to capture the history, ecology, geography, technologies, laws, and politics, as well as challenges and solutions, to the relationships of people to the planet. The book consolidates the complex dimensions of human and natural systems to support a paradigm shift, which embeds the Rights of Nature in national and state constitutions, to create the essential reciprocity between people and the planet.

“Systems theory, which is about understanding relationships among ‘things’—not the things themselves—grew out of the theories of Ludwig Von Bertalanffy, George Miller, Kenneth Boulder, and others, surrounding World War II. As a self-described ‘systems wonk,’ it was heartening to me to find a book that offers system concepts in the 15 ‘Laws of Reciprocity.’ These laws remind us that everything is related to everything else, and that one can not only analyze and explain systems relationships but also geometrically expand the understanding of problems, and hence, solutions. If one thinks that problems are unidimensional, then one proposes a single ‘silver-bullet’ solution, and often causes yet another problem or problems. The authors’ approach reminds us that not only is there complexity in the system but also cumulative effects over time, which are understandable, if we think systemically.

“For all of their concern about the environment, La Follette and Maser are not anti-people; indeed, they recognize, honor, and incorporate people into their analyses, recognizing that ultimately it will be people who create the change that leads to a harmonious relationship with the planet. The authors are clear that we are locked with nature toward a future in a reciprocal relationship, a species with rapidly increasing brawn now needing sufficient brain to understand who we are and what we do to our essential partner. While other species have created massive die-offs and changes in natural systems, we are the first species that has created the very-real risk of making our planet uninhabitable.

“Change in systems can be slow in terms of a human life, but very rapid in terms of historic time. Through my own training in landscape architecture and natural resource management, I’ve often wondered what part of this planet we will leave untouched. My landscape-architecture training, in the 1960s, valued nature only as a substrate to grow ornamental plants; there was little concern for wildlife (even bees and birds), much less for soil or water. That profession, and many others in natural resources, has grown much over the past 50-plus years, and now there are green roofs, bio-swales, native plants, and home landscapes planted for wildlife. There are a host of environmental regulations at both national and state levels to protect the environment. In natural resource management, there is far more concern for sustainability with its myriad meanings than there is for nature as a ‘resource’ having its own intrinsic value.

“Although change within professions, institutions, and cultures is slow, I would argue that it is inexorable. Embedded in the 15 ‘Laws of Reciprocity’ is the reality that human systems do not like change unless it is safe, incremental, and rewarding, but change is happening nevertheless. There are always people who push the frontier of what we know and do, who define new values and ways of achieving those values.

“The incorporation of Rights of Nature into national and state constitutions has already begun. The authors review in detail how Ecuador and Bolivia have made this change, and how the United Nations and other entities have entered the discussion, providing both hope and incentive to continue the effort. The authors have, in what must be a unique synthesis of the literature, pulled together in their ‘endnotes’ the diversity of efforts occurring on the planet, providing a comprehensive and integrated review for anyone working on a specific issue or cluster of issues.

“For those who wish to sustain the status quo, La Follete and Maser are dangerous: They propose the kind of fundamental change that will upset disciplines, corporations, organizations, institutions, and people who benefit from current circumstances. They are not bound by an orthodoxy and doing what has always been done. While I would not agree with all statements they make or solutions they offer, I appreciate the opening of a much broader and deeper discussion of the relationships between people and the planet.

“I agree whole-heartedly with their concern for Indigenous peoples and their Native ways. From my own years in Alaska, teaching co-management of natural resources, I know that the loss of Native ways, including their languages, leaves the world poorer for ideas about how we might fashion a new relationship between Western culture and the planet. This is no small matter, because how we think and how we assign value defines how we act; if the environment is made up of resources without souls or purpose other than those we give it, there is little room for the new thinking and new ways.

“The book is not simple, but La Follete and Maser use a five-part structure to move the reader carefully through the 16 chapters. Part I addresses the systems theory, the Laws of Reciprocity foundation of their logic, and the emerging legal paradigm centered in Ecuador and Brazil. Part II concerns building blocks for rights of nature system, such as private-land ownership. Part III describes stumbling blocks, notably a diverse array of technologies and one of the most challenging—corporations. Part IV shifts into possible solutions in application of Rights of Nature for land, water, and air, whereas Part V adds discussions of food supply, energy, mining/drilling, and trade.

“Parts IV and V are particularly rich for their discussion of ‘management considerations,’ what is working now or could work. Each chapter concludes with scores of references that make the book the center of a much greater worldwide discussion. Here, the professor in me wants students to pick one of the dozens of subjects and grapple with issues and solutions, to go beyond doing what society, or their profession does now, but looking toward what is possible tomorrow. Indeed, I would want students to look back 50 years to what was, and then look forward 50 years to what could be. I would ask them to use this book to be part of the paradigm shift that La Follete and Maser imagine.

“The health of the planet has never been as threatened as it is now, largely by new technologies distributed by larger-than-government corporations. ‘Modernity,’ with all of its products, expectations, and values is changing and spreading with unimaginable speed. Such rapid change has become the norm and is threatening many, if not most, people and societies, promoting often dramatic and hostile feedback from those who feel threatened, left aside, or who cannot compete. There is tremendous pressure for countries, religions, and more broadly cultures, to accept the Western paradigm to develop their natural world in Western ways. Yet, to do so may be to come onboard a sinking ship. There are no easy answers, but there needs to be an in-depth and fact-based discussion. This book serves to both initiate and support that discussion.

“Good books are provocative and often require several readings. Sometimes they are ‘right on’ and fit our personal views, while other times they can be annoying or feel mistaken or biased, but often on a second or later pass they make sense, good sense. As an academic and practitioner who feels proud to be shunned by both ‘deep’ environmentalists and aggressive ‘developmentalists,’ this book is refreshing, but not easy: the simile that comes to mind is of diving into a cold mountain lake—awakening, something you don’t forget, something that helps you find feelings and senses that have become dormant. As much as the problems feel overwhelming and apocalyptic, on one hand, so the solutions, including those the authors point out have already happened, encourage us not to despair, on the other. Where Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson helped me to a greater appreciation of nature over 50 years ago, La Follette and Maser help me to think about that nature with new insight, information, and hope today.

“We are, as noted, the one species that can destroy itself and all others. We are a young species that, by one definition, is only recently conscious. I would argue that most of what we think and do is rote, stamped into our right brains by our culture through our parents, religion, and social norms. We learn a way of thinking that makes response easy, but unreflective and often wrong. It is heartening to see Pope Francis mentioned as a proponent of what this book is about. It also gives me hope to know that some corporations are seeing the inevitable—we need to go beyond who we have been and how we think about nature to who we can be. We need to know our limits and ourselves. Perhaps most importantly, we need to get past what the authors call our ‘self-righteous arrogance.’ And, we need the planet to hang with us a little longer while we grow the humility to become part of long-lived and diverse ecosystems, rather than the invasive species we are today.

“Looking back over my lifetime, I can see clearly that there has been a paradigm shift in our culture and our society, but it is not enough. Now, on what corporations would call a ‘just in time basis,’ arrives La Follette’s and Maser’s book, providing a summary of where we’ve been, guidance on where we need to go, and how to get there. I heartily recommend this book for concerned citizens and students. In addition, having served as the director of a division of a family foundation, I strongly encourage leaders of corporations, foundations, universities, and organizations to read this book and reflect on their own orthodoxy and whether they represent an obstacle to change or are open to developing a reciprocal relation with nature.

“One of my favorite sayings is: We all live in an economy; we all live in a community, and we all live in a watershed. These three systems form, for me, a Venn diagram of overlapping circles, each with its own interior relationships and each with relationships to other circles. La Follette and Maser have described the nature of these relationships, providing a ‘go to’ book for understanding, planning, and action. In the conclusion, the authors review doomsday scenarios that have been written, but they end on a strong note of hope, that ‘courage and altruism are two indomitable human traits that will lead us to repair … severed relationships with courage, responsibility, and a deep commitment for one another and all life.’ Amen.”

Dr. Thomas J. Gallagher
Professor of Natural Resources Management, University of Alaska, Fairbanks,
Scholar with the Western Rural Development Center, Oregon State University, Corvallis,
Founding editor of the Journal of Leadership Education,
Director of the Ford Institute for Community Building of The Ford Family Foundation, Roseburg, Oregon.

“With a great sense of relief and hope, I endorse SUSTAINABILITY AND THE RIGHTS OF NATURE: AN INTRODUCTION. Esteemed authors Cameron La Follette and Chris Maser have gifted the world with a roadmap for ecological and social resilience based on a thorough understanding of ecology and ethics favoring the common good. The often-detailed concepts of environmental science are accessible to a broad readership, and the legal contexts are clearly presented. I also see it as an excellent textbook for college students, for all branches of science—environmental, ecological, historical, political, physical, sociological, technical, and engineering—and for economics, arts, and humanities. The book touches down into details about places around the world, which exemplify both grave predicaments and attainable solutions for the pathway forward. The losses of habitat and ecosystem integrity are staggering, yet there is hope for protecting what remains. By following the ‘blueprint’ outlined in this book, we can find ways to ‘retool’ by instituting laws, policies, and practices based on ‘The Rights of Nature.’

“In following the work of Chris Maser since the late 1980’s, I see that he is continuing to produce timely publications of crucial information needed by organizations, institutions, and communities facing choices between natural resource sustainability and the path of further destruction of the planet’s life-support systems. This new book provides ecological, historical, legal, and contextual information about the wide range of seemingly insurmountable challenges we face around the planet. Thankfully, along with in-depth analyses of the problems and causes, the recommended solutions seem attainable. The lists of specific recommendations for management, restoration, research, and governance, all emphasize justice. Indeed, ‘The Rights of Nature,’ as an overarching framework for choice-making at all levels of governance, from personal to global, is a greatly needed manifesto.”

Judith Ann Wait

Ph.D. Candidate, Environmental & Natural Resource Science
Agroecology & Urban Ecosystems
School of the Environment
Washington State University, Vancouver.

Sustainability And The Rights Of Nature: An Introduction. 2017. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. If you want more information about this book or want to purchase it, visit “BOOKS” on my website.

Text © by Chris Maser 2016. All rights reserved.

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If you want to contact me, you can visit my website. If you wish, you can also read an article about what is important to me and/or you can listen to me give a presentation.

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