From the mountains to the sea

18 07 2008

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.



2 responses

18 07 2008
Baraza » Society for Conservation Biology meeting

[…] The SCB meeting has just ended. I thought it was my awful cold that made it hard for me to really “get into it” this year but  then I read Cory’s blog here …. “I truly felt a lack of excitement or passion at the conference. There was nothing to suggest that we…“ […]


18 07 2008
Paula Kahumbu

Hi Corey, I and so many I’ve spoken to agree with you about the lack of ‘bite’ in this meeting. I feel rather depressed – didn’t hear anything inspiring or hopeful throughout the meeting. We need to think ahead about how to make the China meeting have an impact on us and on the status quo. We need some new voices in this field to add that spark that will catalyze some new conversations. The Africa Section is having a meeting in Jan 09 on policy – I hope that we can get some publications in ‘letters’ from this or the Beijing meeting. Nice meeting you and look forward to working together on the BLOG.


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