What does it mean to Conserve?

What makes people love nature?

At one time or another, most of us have enjoyed a refreshing hike through picturesque woods, looked for sea life along a pristine beach, or experienced a childlike feeling of excitement upon seeing an animal in the wild. Natural experiences can be breathtaking. Surreal. Oddly comforting. Powerful.

Raja Ampat Marine Protected Area in Indonesia. Photo credit: Enjoylocations.com

Raja Ampat Marine Protected Area in Indonesia. Photo credit: Enjoylocations.com

As a society, we value the existence of wildlife and natural spaces. As conservationists, we strive to protect species of plants and animals, as well as their habitats, and preserve nature for future generations. In practice, wildlife conservation is a curious mix of activism and science, of efforts to do right by the planet informed by best-fit lines and population models.

Wildlife biologists taking samples from an anesthetized polar bear in (left) and a scientific diver taking samples at a coral reef (right). Successful conservation involves the cooperation of wildlife biologists, statisticians, park rangers, ecologists, policy makers, volunteers, and the public. Photo credit: Biology Reference.

Wildlife biologists taking samples from an anesthetized polar bear in (left) and a scientific diver taking samples at a coral reef (right). Successful conservation involves the cooperation of wildlife biologists, statisticians, park rangers, ecologists, policy makers, environmental educators, volunteers, and the public. Photo credit: Biology Reference.

So why conserve? Well, as many conservationists are quick to point out, many species are in trouble across the board, with hard science pointing to serious ecological challenges. The tough part for conservation organizations is communicating that message effectively.

Public outreach by conservation groups is profoundly emotional and sensational for a science-based profession. Daunting numbers and dismal figures are stacked up every day to get our attention, leaving us with a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. Endangered species. Climate change. Overfishing. Habitat loss. Animal cruelty. These are major problems, but rather than being told a way forward we are told about another major problem.

Wildlife conservation efforts often paint pictures of desperation and devastation. Photo credit: National Geographic, The Guardian

Wildlife conservation campaigns often paint pictures of desperation and devastation. Photo credit: National Geographic, The Guardian

What conservationists must realize is that sensationalizing the story every time only numbs us to the situation and creates apathy. With public awareness as a key driver of social change and conservation success, there must be a way to balance increased awareness with feelings of empowerment and stewardship rather than defeat and depression.

With these challenges in mind, this blog aims to redefine what it means to Conserve.

To Conserve is to learn from success stories.

Conservation is wrought with negative stories, but there are lots of conservation success stories out there that we don’t hear about. Often they are incremental victories where important steps have been made but more have yet to follow. This blog will focus on conservation success stories and what can be learned from them by pinpointing successful strategies and translating the lessons of success stories into guidelines for approaching other conservation issues. By letting people know that conservation efforts can eventually win out, they will be more likely to emotionally invest themselves in other conservation causes.

To Conserve is to turn apathy into engagement.

Conservation groups often struggle to communicate how the public can contribute beyond making donations and signing petitions. While these are both important ways to contribute to conservation success, concrete actions that can be undertaken by the individual are important for citizen engagement. By including actions that readers can take to make a positive impact at the end of each post, feelings of defeat and helplessness can be translated into feelings of empowerment.

To Conserve is to let others know.

Getting the word out is huge. With conservation, awareness is the fastest path to funding and the easiest way to generate political will for change. Something seemingly as small as sharing a cause on social media contributes in a big way by getting other people involved in the issue. This blog will highlight issues across a broad swath of the conservation spectrum with the goal of educating readers, from the ecology enthusiast to the apathetic average Joe.

The next step is to explore the issues. Find out what is going right in the world of conservation, and how you can make a real, measurable difference when things aren’t.

Click here to begin.

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10 comments

  1. Hi! I found out about your website through Reddit and love the idea. I’m a professor of biology/ecology and I, too, feel that we need to focus more on conservation success stories as teaching / learning tools, and sources of energy and inspiration. Two amazing stories I’d like to suggest are 1) the story of the New Zealand Black Robin, which was reduced to only a single female (old blue) before a successful recovery, and 2) the elimination of feral goats from three giant islands in the Galapagos, this story is published in a paper by Cruz et al. 2012, but made accessible to the public by an episode of Radiolab called “Galapagos”

    Like

    1. Thank you for the feedback! I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of completely eradicating invasive species on islands, whether it be rats or goats, because it seems relatively achievable and since so many island species are severely impacted by invasives. I will definitely look into those stories; don’t be surprised if you see a post about one of them in the future!

      Like

  2. You’ve just gained a follower, you might wish to follow back at naturestimeline.com

    Regards

    Tony Powell

    Like

    1. Just checked out your site and it looks great! Seems like we have a similar mission. Will be following closely

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed we do. I’m fairly active on my naturestimeline Facebook page too should that interest you and your followers.

        Like

  3. It goes without saying, I also Thank you for your follow back.

    Take care and Best Wishes

    Tony Powell

    Like

  4. Neha Jain · · Reply

    I love your blog! I am also into conservation biology and hope to create more awareness about the impact of human activities on other species through my blog. Keep the great work!

    Like

    1. Thanks! I got a chance to look at your blog as well, looks great!

      Like

  5. Howdy! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that
    would be okay. I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

    Like

    1. Yes, you can follow conserve on twitter at @howtoconserve!

      Like

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