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Conservation Optimism

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%

every year.

(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.

(html for rhino story -

(html for iucn -

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

of conservation.

(html link for the summit -

(html link for earth optimism -

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

brighter one.

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