Why biodiversity conservation?

Our vulnerable planet

Our planet is changing rapidly, for the worse. The human species shows little respect for landscapes, oceans and the animal world. Accommodating an expanding world population is the root of the problem. Productive capacity is stretched while at the same time incredible waste occurs. Agriculture claims a growing part of our water resources but our increasing population lives with severe water stress. The consequences for nature and biodiversity are dramatic.

The need for active intervention to protect biodiversity is acute and ongoing. There is strong evidence that good management and direct action can stem some losses. Such intervention must be designed in ways that achieve tangible results and improve prospects for the future. Our Foundation strives to contribute to this collective effort.

Striving for quality (and efficiency) in conservation

Conservation, as we all know too well, is always short of resources. The technical and economic means needed to stop and reverse the negative trends in many of the current biodiversity indicators are huge and possibly beyond the combined efforts of all institutions and conservation organizations. In spite of the generally increasing levels of political awareness on the acute crisis faced by biodiversity worldwide, the dimension of the issues to be addressed is daunting and, admittedly, at times overwhelming.

Boitani horizontal
Prof. Luigi Boitani, Chief Executive Officer

What, then, can a private and small organization ever hope to contribute to alleviating the current crisis? Several strategic approaches can be adopted. In the past decades, important and powerful conservation organizations have tested many methodologies with a variety of results. Some strategies have focused on a few priority and highly threatened species or habitat types, others on building long-term relationships with local and national governments, and others on preventing and eliminating serious threats such as poaching and illegal trade of protected species. All of these strategies have pros and cons and the suitability of each depends on the technical and economic capability of the individual organizations.

Even before discussing and adopting any one strategy however, there is a fundamental issue to be tackled and mastered to ensure the best contribution to conservation. This is the “quality” of the activities implemented in responding to conservation challenges. The quality of a conservation project results from the combined values of several attributes. Firstly, a science-based approach should be used in order to develop realistic and well-defined objectives. Secondly, technical resources and human skills must be of the highest possible standard to ensure that conservation action is carried out in the best possible way. The third component is efficiency which relates to obtaining the results with the least effort. The fourth component of a quality project is related to measuring objectives and addressing its outcomes: monitoring the performance of a project allows to apply an adaptive management approach and could help guide future strategic choices.