The theme of this year’s Society for Conservation Biology annual meeting in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA.
The positives: I was fortunate to meet some great established and up-and-coming conservation biologists that I had not yet met face to face; the people were friendly; the organisation was efficient; and many of the talks were good, solid science.
The negatives: I truly felt a lack of excitement or passion at the conference. There was nothing to suggest that we are in the midst of a conservation crisis; perhaps we as scientists have seen and heard it so much that the ‘crisis’ tone has been lost in our delivery. Have we given up? The quality of the the research and the dedication of those involved suggest otherwise, but I can’t help think that there is a spark missing from those responsible for convincing the rest of the world that we are in serious trouble. It’s almost as if we’ve come full circle – the early days of conservation biology (the discipline) struggled to find its place among the more classic scientific research fields, but over 50 years of excellent and ground-breaking research has secured its place among the most relevant of today’s scientific endeavours. Conservation scientists began to take on bolder roles as advocates in addition to being purely objective information providers. The world’s sad state has ratified the importance of what we do like never before, but it would be sadder still if we slipped back into the passionless role of mere data providers.
I hope the next conference inspires me more. No offence intended to the conference organisers – my statements reflect the apparent laissez-faire of all of us.