Editing your elevator speech for modern attention spans: can you leave an impression in 20 seconds?
*Note: This blog is participatory. If you have an opinion and don’t mind taking 5 minutes to share it, I would really appreciate it.
Many conservationists spend considerable time thinking about how to communicate to the public in order to increase support for conservation actions. There is a growing understanding that increasing social capital for doing conservation is critical for many conservation successeses. Mark published a really nice, thought-provoking article on this in Conservation Biology back in 2008 (read it here). He argued that, “Conservation biologists…need to think big… in terms of the numbers of concerned and mobilized constituents for conservation. A focus on developing conservation social capital – rallying the public around the need to take conservation of biodiversity seriously – may suggest a shift in conservation emphasis not entire based on ecosystem targets and wildlands objectives.”
It is encouraging that there has been a lot of progress in this area. Local conservation organizations, such as land trusts, that rely on support and participation from local citizens are growing rapidly and are collectively conserving huge areas across the United States. Citizen science and participatory monitoring programs are becoming increasing important venues for data collection and public engagement. There is growing emphasis on restoring and managing social-ecological systems – bringing conservation into urban and agricultural lands, while also tying conservation to issues of public health and social justice. All of these trends rely on a growing consciousness regarding conservation issues among the public.
We also recognize that this proportion of the public that is actively engaged in or motivated by conservation issues is relatively small, and that we must continue to grow it. However, the amount of time that any one person’s attention is available for learning about conservation related issues is limited. The amount of information we are capable of sharing is also limited. This requires us to prioritize what information we think is most critical for increasing support for conservation.
And this is where I start really needing help. I am fairly certain that the ideas that most strongly motivate me to support conservation aren’t the right ones to use to open a dialogue with someone who has never before considered the need for or value of conservation.
So, here is my question to you:
As a conservationist, is there one thing that you wished everyone knew or understood about the world or conservation in general?
What concept do you think is the most important for motivating someone to support conservation? Why?
I thought we’d try something new for this post and instead of giving you my opinion or sharing some knowledge of a subject, I will solicit the help of the reader. Last week the editorial board of Nature’s Confluence (i.e., The Schwartz lab meeting) was discussing what at first might seem like an obvious question: What is the principal driver of conservation land preservation? Put another way, why are some lands (or waters) purchased or otherwise partially or completely removed from economic use? We are specifically thinking of modern acquisitions (let’s say the last couple of decades) with the ultimate goal being biodiversity conservation. So what do you think?
I may be painting myself into the salmon-blogger corner here at Nature’s Confluence, but quite simply, I think they are fascinating, and they give us so much to ponder! So I hope others enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing about this astounding fish. This post moves away from direct management concerns in California and talks a bit more about the big evolutionary picture of the salmon life-cycle. Spoiler alert - there are no answers here, just some ideas and lots of questions waiting to be answered.
What could possibly inspire a juvenile salmon shorter than your toothbrush to swim hundreds or thousands of miles from their home stream to the vast ocean? There are actually many analogous migrations throughout the animal world, including those of birds, butterflies, and caribou. The study of these risky, long-distance movements has resulted in theory about evolutionary ecology and the selective pressures that result in these seemingly improbable behaviors.
“Climate change adaptation” is a term that is thrown around a lot in research and management circles. Although it is a relatively new, and sometimes daunting, term it can often refer to the thoughtful repurposing of management strategies. A prime example of this is the use of thin layer sediment augmentation in tidal marshes. Thin layer sediment augmentation (hereafter sediment augmentation) refers to the practice of spraying a slurry of dredge spoils and water from a barge or a system of pipes onto a marsh surface. As discussed in a previous post (link), marsh habitats are dependent on a balance between processes that increase and decrease marsh elevation relative to sea-level. Marsh elevation increases as a function of deposition of sediment from external sources (i.e. rivers), and plant growth. Elevation decreases due to decomposition of organic matter (plants), erosion, compaction, and sea-level rise. Local tectonics can also cause an increase or a decrease in elevation. Thus, thin layer sediment augmentation artificially increases the amount of sediment deposited on the marsh surface. In a typical marsh, annual sediment inputs are measured at a scale of millimeters a year. Sediment augmentation artificially increases the amount of sediment deposited on a marsh, by up to 60 cm. Excitement is growing in the natural resource management communities about the potential of using sediment augmentation as a climate change adaption strategy.
Presently snow-covered and always picturesque, Yosemite National Park is an icon of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Successive storms have dumped feet of snow on Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, giving it the appearence a winter wonderland. Yet, even with current snowstorms, it was only a short time ago when the lack of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains was highlighted as an important problem for water resources in California and a major consequence of increased temperatures and severe droughts. While we enjoy a year of snow, the warming temperatures over the past century in these mountains are concerning for the animals that live there.
I am embarking on what, for me, is a bold experiment in teaching conservation ecology. This will be a case-based class that is half flipped, with the goal of focusing on complex integrated resource management decisions where conservation science has an integral role in informing management decisions. My hope is that I do not become totally flipped out by it.
Why am I doing this? Mostly, frustration with trying to teach previous conservation ecology classes. The challenge for conservation ecology is that it is the application of any of a number of the ecological sciences to conservation problems, rather than a science unto itself. As a consequence, teaching conservation ecology generally consist of teaching the ecology that describes how scientists quantify threats to nature. Inbreeding depression in small populations, habitat loss viability assessment of threatened populations, loss of ecosystem function because of dysfunction in species interactions (e.g., pollination); the list is very long. and so each garners superficial treatment.
Google chrome users: click here to download a RSS extension