At the beginning of August, the WFN team attended the 27th International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB) in Montpellier, where nearly 2,000 biologists, scientists and conservation professionals came together to discuss the most pressing environmental issues of today.
The conference theme “Mission Biodiversity: Choosing new paths for conservation” was a response to indications that many traditional methods for conserving biodiversity have failed to meet expectations, and that an adaptive approach is key to achieving conservation success in a rapidly changing world.
WFN held a booth at the conference to help raise the profile of the charity and the Whitley Awards amongst a wide conservation audience. It gave the team a chance to catch up with past winners including Rodrigo Medellin and Çağan Şekercioğlu, and make new connections with potential applicants.
During the conference week, we held a joint networking event with the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) and the WWF Russell E. Train Education for Nature Programme (EFN). Alumni from CLP and EFN were invited to encourage collaboration between grantees and also application to the Whitley Awards. At the event, 2012 Whitley Gold Award winner, Rodrigo Medellin gave an inspiring talk on his work to conserve bats across Latin America, whilst also explaining the impact of winning a Whitley Award on his career.
The WFN team was struck by the diversity and passion of those presenting at the conference, and were reminded of why we are so committed to channelling conservation funding to where it is needed most.
Here are just three of the most interesting facts we learnt during the week:
- There are now more wolves in Europe than in the whole of the United States (Prof. Luigi Boitani, Chairman of the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe).
- In 2008 the Oxford Junior Dictionary dropped the names of thirty species of common or important British plants and animals such as ‘blackberry’ and ‘magpie’, replacing them with terms such as ‘blog’ and ‘MP3 player’. Tellingly, one nature-related word was added – ‘endangered’ (Prof. Kevin Gaston, University of Exeter). Read more…
- International conservation NGOs rely on flagship species campaigns for fundraising but this approach has been criticised for benefitting a limited number of species. In a recent study, it was found that international NGOs only used 80 flagship species and that 61% of their campaigns only raised funds for the species itself. The existing flagships are generally large and have forward-facing eyes and there are 183 other threatened species with similar traits. The current approach is limited but NGOs could overcome this by adopting ‘Cinderella species’ as flagships, which are also aesthetically pleasing but currently overlooked, such as the Critically Endangered African wild ass (Dr. Bob Smith, University of Kent). Read more…