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Working together: A call for inclusive conservation
An age-old conflict around a seemingly simple question has resurfaced: why do we conserve nature? Contention around this issue has come and gone many times, but in the past several years we believe that it has reappeared as an increasingly acrimonious debate between, in essence, those who argue that nature should be protected for its own sake (intrinsic value) and those who argue that we must also save nature to help ourselves (instrumental value).
Champions of instrumental value contend, among other things, that protecting nature for its own sake alone has failed to stem the tide of species extinction, that conservation should be open to partnering with business to effect the greatest change and that conservation support will be broadened by more directly considering other social objectives (such as food security or clean water). By contrast, advocates of intrinsic value assert that ethical arguments for conservation should be sufficient, that partnering with business is selling out to those who create the problem and that social considerations are already central to conservation.
Unfortunately, what began as a healthy debate has, in our opinion, descended into vitriolic, personal battles in universities, academic conferences, research stations, conservation organizations and even the media6. We believe that this situation is stifling productive discourse, inhibiting funding and halting progress.
Adding to the problem, in our view, is the issue that this dispute has become dominated by only a few voices, nearly all of them men's. We see this as illustrative of the bigger issues of gender and cultural bias that also continue to hinder conservation.
The stakes? The future of conservation science, practice and policy. Conservation regularly encounters varied points of view and a range of values in the real world. To address and engage these views and values, we call for more-inclusive representation of scientists and practitioners in the charting of our field's future, and for a more-inclusive approach to conservation.
Department/SchoolSchool of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences
PublisherNature Publishing Group
Place of publicationMacmillan Building, 4 Crinan St, London, England, N1 9Xw
Rights statementCopyright 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved