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Don’t forget to look on the bright side

When you work in the field of conservation even for a short amount of time your eyes are quickly opened to the perils facing the natural world. From habitat loss to global warming, humans are having a huge detrimental impact on all life on our planet. Seeing these impacts first hand and then researching and finding out more about these complicated and intricate problems can sometimes be quite depressing.

Many of the problems facing the earth right now require an immediate change on a large scale. Much to the frustration of conservationists, this change is taking a long time, with the impression from many that a ‘point of no return’ is coming in the near future. This leads to people seeing conservation as a lost cause, a point of view that can derail the entire conservation effort. If you can’t see hope then there will be no will to change.

Conservation scientists tend to promote awareness of issues by calling attention to worst case scenarios (for example, ‘if nothing is done, this species will be extinct within x number of years’). It is important for people to understand that while conservation issues are important and shouldn’t be ignored, we should not get blinded by a sense of impending doom, or a ‘what’s the point?’ attitude.

Conservation exists because a difference can be made in the world and it has. The problem is that if you focus too much on the negatives it can eclipse all the positives happening out there. This happens frequently when people forget a problem after it has been resolved to focus on the next issue. It is important to celebrate these victories in conservation and not gloss them over. There are people working very hard whose efforts are paying off.

The fact that there is hope out there should not be forgotten. Species have been brought back from extinction, massive natural protected areas have been created, and giant potentially destructive mega projects have been derailed because of their potential negative ecological impact. The power of the few cannot be underestimated, something that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially by conservationists.


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