Campaigners Call for ‘Conservation Optimism’

Conservationists are often criticised for being too negative when it comes to speaking about the state of nature.

Further, the media tends to focus on the doom and gloom of species loss, habitat degradation and climate changes issues, rather than the positive stories of real successes on the ground. As an antidote to this, the Conservation Optimism Summit, a two day conference bringing together over 300 conservationists, journalists, policy makers and other interested individuals, was held in London last month, in addition to a public event held on Earth Day at London Zoo. It was organised by a partnership of conservationists and students from the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science at Oxford University, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Zoological Society of London.

Cheli Cresswell, a PhD student at Oxford University, was on the steering committee for the summit, and believes that hope is a better cause for action than despair.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Everyone shared a tremendous enthusiasm for the vision of the summit”[/perfectpullquote]

“So many diverse voices and backgrounds were represented, and the one thing that everyone seemingly shared was a tremendous enthusiasm for the vision of the summit. I think more and more people are realizing that hope is a much more empowering emotion than fear, and if we want to make a difference for conservation, we have to give people both a reason, and a model, for action.”

Topics of discussion included lynx reintroduction in central Europe, giant tortoises in the Galapagos, orangutans in Malaysia, microbeads, conservation communication and rewilding. Farmland conservation received little attention directly, although biologist Ugo D’Ambrosio acknowledged a growth in diversity of certain crop varieties in some parts of the world, for example of buckwheat and aubergines. Farming and conservation are often discussed in different arenas and it is important that they come together.

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Ben Eagle

Conservation Editor Ben Eagle runs the regular 'Meet the Farmers' podcast series and writes at

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