30 August 2007

How do you protect a species which is threatened by extinction?

Most of the time, it is an extremely lengthy process that includes research to document the extent of decline, identification of the most appropriate management measures considered necessary to stop the decline and allow for species (or population) recovery, involvement of international agreements, legislative frameworks, NGOs and the media, public awareness and education actions targeting the general public, and communication with policy makers to make them aware of the need to act.

Good scientific evidence is one of the most useful tools, but science alone can do little. A scientist should realize that personal engagement is also necessary. A single person can do a lot in terms of communicating the problem and looking for solutions. In the end, however, it is up to the politicians to listen to this message, and do something to protect the animals. Unfortunately, the typical reaction by policy makers is to call for more research, more planning, a workshop, or whatever can slow down and delay the actual implementation phase. This is what I call ‘conservation on paper’. Scientific reports, conservation plans and good intentions do not actually prevent species extinctions as long as they remain on paper. Timely action is also necessary.

Giovanni Bearzi

Bearzi G. 2007. Marine conservation on paper. Conservation Biology 21(1):1-3. (103 Kb)

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