The goal of our Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) Europe Section Blog is to share stories and relevant information about activities going on within our section and more broadly in the conservation community. Stories and articles shared on our blog should not be taken as an official position or statement of SCB or SCB Europe Section. Thank you for reading!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Nature conservation should proclaim a solution, not a problem

Guest post by Maxime Eeraerts

To live on our planet for generations to come, we need to stop destroying it. Yet, those of us at the heart of nature conservation, those who value ecosystems, and those who connect with and understand the biological world, make the general public raise their eyebrows more often than not when it comes to discussing these issues. Labelled as “tree-huggers”, our message is anticipated by many to be negative, such as the rhetoric around consuming less and taking actions to reduce our impact on the environment.

This current conservation rhetoric might have the opposite effect on people's decisions and actions then what it aims to do. Therefore, it is worth exploring whether positive messages of hope would result in more success stories. As scientists and nature conservationists, focussing on and promoting the principles and benefits of proven success stories could be a key way to better our community engagement, to inspire action and change. All around us we find genuine success stories of conservation, nature reclamation, and climate mitigation. I believe that these examples should be our teachers. One such example, is the Bumblebee Conservation Trust established by Dr Dave Goulson whose work emphasizes the need for more bee-friendly habitat. The trust enhances community awareness about bumblebees and their decline through education programs geared toward both children and adults, and by popularising the science and involvement of farmers, and gardeners and politicians. Since the establishment of the trust in 2006 it has grown by over 10,000 members, and restored over 2,000 hectares of flower rich habitat in the United Kingdom.

Surely, as it stands our natural capital is almost bankrupt, we need to change our ways and do it fast. As described in the above-mentioned example, solutions and movements of change can be very variable, science-based or from a business point of view, from bottom-up to top-down. It shows that conservation can work. Besides the fact that a lot of nature and biodiversity is already lost, there still is a great deal that remains and which is worth fighting for!

Maxime Eeraerts began his PhD in January 2016 at Ghent University. The PhD project aims to quantify the natural pollination service to sweet cherry, and to determine if this pollination service is feasible in landscapes with varied intensities of agriculture. You can find more about his research here.

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