Monday, 24 April 2017

Recovering species must be celebrated or we risk reversing progress


Date: April 20, 2017

Source: University of Cambridge
 

A failure to celebrate conservation successes means we miss vital opportunities to convince the public of "real and practical solutions" they can engage with, says a leading conservationist.

Writing in the journal Oryx, Andrew Balmford, Professor of Conservation Science at the University of Cambridge, argues that any progress risks being reversed if we "let drift the many gains that the conservation movement is making."

Progress redefines what we consider normal, he says, as in the case of the smoking ban or rights for women. Such "positive shifting baselines" even extend to the green shoots of nature's recovery through conservation -- from birdlife in the UK's Avalon marshes to monkeys in Brazilian forests.

However, Balmford says conservation improvements can quickly get taken for granted. When combined with the seemingly endless torrent of bad news about nature, he believes the overall effect can render people hopeless.

"If we forget where we've come from, we risk allowing things to slip backwards," he writes, pointing to examples in the UK and US where early species recoveries have already led to official sanctioning of hunting and culling of partially restored populations.

In an effort to shift the balance towards celebrating and reinforcing success, Balmford and colleagues from the Cambridge Conservation Initiative are organising Cambridge University's contribution to a day of global action. #EarthOptimism will promote a much more positive outlook on the future of the natural world.



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