I don’t need to tell you that we’re facing a mass extinction, or that orangutans are
declining due to logging, or even that our oceans are filling up with plastic pollution.
You already know all that.
But did you know that China, one of the biggest drivers of ivory trade, has promised
to close down its domestic market by the end of 2017? Did you know that, this
summer, the UK will be implementing a ban on microplastics, a
battle that Fauna and Flora have fought for 7 years? And, did you know that wild
tigers in Bhutan have increased to 103 individuals, up from the previous estimate of
I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t. Unfortunately, conservation is a discipline in which
negative news stories dominate. Whilst we cannot ignore the issues we face, we
must have confidence in the dedicated conservationists who are fighting tooth and
nail to preserve this planet. Moreover, it is crucial that we share our success stories
with each other – because there are plenty out there!
For example, international conservation efforts over the last 40 years, such as
banning commercial whaling, have succeeded in increasing humpback whale
populations such that many no longer warrant the status of ‘endangered’ under the
USA Endangered Species Act. Furthermore, populations off the west and east
coasts of Australia are recovering considerably; increasing approximately 9-10%
(html link for whale success story -
Another extremely positive story that has failed to gain media time involves the
greater one-horned rhino in Nepal. As elephant and rhino populations suffer from
endless persecution for their ivory, the populations in Nepal have experienced only
one poaching event since 2011. The species is not ‘out of the water’ yet, but,
considering its down-listing from endangered to vulnerable in 2008, this can be
celebrated as one of the greatest success stories in Asian conservation.
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Drumming up public support can feel like an uphill battle; the public receive endless
doom and gloom messages, believing there is no point in acting because they don’t
think they can help. It is scientifically proven that negativity induces apathy, and we
need to change that. Marine biologist Nancy Knowlton explains how her
#oceanoptimism campaign has lead young people to feel energised and inspired,
providing them with direction – proof that, through positive communication, we can
empower people to make a change.
(html link for Nancy Knowlton article -
Enter Conservation Optimism.
The world’s first conservation optimism summits were held in London and
Washington last month. The sister events were a product of the growing movement
‘earth optimism’, which focuses on finding solutions, not problems. Both events
gained serious traction, with speakers attending from across the world to share their
success stories and their advice on assuring an optimistic future. We have an
opportunity here to build on this momentum and create real social change – a
movement that will see team-work, and of course optimism, very much at the heart
(html link for the summit -
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Our message to you…?
We encourage you all to be optimistic; to learn about the amazing
conservationists are making, even if they are not front page news, and to know that
any changes you make will help us all in this fight against extinction!
Conservationists are not out to preach to you. We do not wish to impose our beliefs
on you. We simply hope to encourage you to take care of your planet and to see
that we’re all one big team, working towards the same goal – to make our future a