Has big conservation gone astray?

Photo by Rhett Butler/Mongabay

ANALYSIS: The world’s biggest conservation groups have embraced a human-centric approach known as “new conservation.” But is it up to the task of saving life on Earth?

Read Part 1 of Conservation, Divided: Mongabay’s four-part series investigating how the field of conservation has changed over the last 30 years.

Source article: Has big conservation gone astray?
by Mongabay reporter Jeremy Hance | photo by Rhett A. Butler

One of the things you discover as an environmental journalist is just how quickly scientists and conservationists are happy to bash — off the record, of course — big conservation groups. These include four of the world’s largest wildlife and wild-lands-focused groups with a global footprint: WWF, Conservation International (CI), the Nature Conservancy (TNC), and at times, though to a much lesser extent, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Together these four groups employ over ten thousand people in nearly a hundred countries and have a collective annual income of around $2 billion. In many parts of the world, if not most, one of these four groups is likely to be seen as the public face of conservation efforts.

Over the years former employees have regularly dished the dirt to me about missed opportunities, misplaced values, and projects that seemed to fail as often as they succeeded, while current employees often sounded like public relations officials speaking in staccato. Outside conservationists often complained that the big NGOs took credit for their hard work and bungled local relationships. The same concerns would come up repeatedly: an obsession with the organization’s brand at the expense of success, a corporate-mimicked hierarchy, cushy relationships with some of the world’s biggest environmentally destructive corporations, radio silence on so many environmental issues, and an inability to respond to crises that are appearing with ever-more regularity.

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