Wednesday, 2 August 2006

Too Much Research and Not Enough Action

I was walking through my library, gathering together some books in order to research my next book, and I noticed how large the section on conservation had grown. A whole shelf, about a metre long on the economics of conservation alone. And similar runs of books on other conservation topics. Looking at all this research made me ponder. It was all good stuff (or much of it was, as far as I could tell), all very interesting. BUT. How much had it all cost? How many hundreds of hours of some of the top brains in the world were used writing all these reports and books.

As I looked down my shelves I realised that this was the tip of an iceberg. Millions and millions, of pounds, dollars and Euros are being poured into all this theoretical research, while hardly anything ends up in real conservation and protection of endangered habitats.

Even the big conservation organisations seem to spend more money on writing reports and organising conferences and sending management teams and consultants around the world than they do on actual conservation. As we enter the second half of the first decade of the 21st century the plight of natural habitats is going critical. Rainforests continue to disappear, oil spills continue, coral reefs die. it is time to ACT. The World Land Trust is tiny compared with all the big international and intergovernmental agencies. But at least we are DOING something, and pro rata it's probably a lot more than most others.

Then a couple of days later I was in a bookshop and noticed that whole of natural history (including conservation) took up a few paltry shelves. Close by the section which embraced reflexology, astrology and a whole host of similar mumbo jumbo was positvely eenormous by comparison. Ditto cooker section, ditto gardening. Depressing?

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