Calls for action at Controversial Conservation debate22/10/2013 09:15:13 Issues that are rarely discussed outside conservation circles were raised publicly at Controversial Conservation, a debate held by World Land Trust (WLT) at the Royal Society.
October 2013. With threats to the world's biodiversity coming from every quarter, and new threats looming daily, WLT decided it was high time to bring some of the issues to the table, despite the fact that there is resistance to discussing many of them.
This wasn't a debate for debate's sake and, following the presentations, there were calls to action. And, notwithstanding the seriousness of the environmental challenges raised, many people went away motivated and inspired.
WLT Patron Chris Packham and the other four panellists (Vivek Menon, founder of Wildlife Trust of India, Mark Avery, former Conservation Director of RSPB, George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy and Celia Haddon, author and cat expert) spoke eloquently and passionately about their topics and were not afraid to raise contentious issues.
Vast scale of the problem
A podcast of the event is now available, and a video will be released in due course. Listen to the podcast
Mass poaching and extinctions
Nature reserves not the only answer
‘The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated'
Bird persecution and cats
Speaking out for conservation
So, why doesn't conservation make front page news? And how can people who care about wildlife make their voices heard?
"We haven't agitated enough," said Mark Avery, "We're not victims. This is a democracy, we can have a say. Change comes from people being angry."
Write to your MP every month
Celia Haddon supported these suggestions and called for people to use the written word and social media in support of conservation: "You are the media," she told the audience. "You don't have to wait."
George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy, warned against getting bogged down in economic arguments for or against conservation, for they will never win the day. For George, the true value of wildlife to most people is its aesthetic quality. "Economics is always a short term argument. If you have a strong feeling for wildlife in your heart, use that argument."
Have your say
"Controversial Conservation has done exactly what we hoped it would do," said John Burton, WLT Chief Executive, after the event. "It has started a public debate, and thanks to social media, we can keep these discussions going."
Members of the public are encouraged to join the debate, online questions and comments will be forwarded to panellists, and more Controversial Conservation events are planned.