Wakeup Call for Conservationists

Here’s a story in the latest issue of Conservation magazine that should raise some hackles:

Social Scientists have long understood that corruption has disastrous effects on struggling economies and people, with the poorest suffering the brunt of that impact. What is now becoming clearer is corruption’s devastating impact on ecosystems””and on the business of conservation itself.

The piece has a great character who tackles Africa’s wildlife trafficking in Cameroon. The story suggests that the problem is wider in scope and little acknowledged:

Discussing the influence of corruption on conservation is a bit like bringing up religion or politics with a new neighbor. The subject remains somewhat taboo””possibly because some in conservation view it as a necessary evil while others say it is too big a beast to fight, much less clearly understand.

“The conservation community is still loath to talk about it,” says [ Transparency International’s Robert] Barrington. “But evidence is emerging that corruption may be the hidden time bomb in conservation.”

To loosen those lips, Conservation magazine might consider soliciting leaders of environmental NGO’s to address the story head-on in an online forum.

7 Responses to “Wakeup Call for Conservationists”

  1. A fascinating read! Something of an Elliot Ness, Indiana Jones and a Dian Fossey all mixed (without Sigourney Weaver’s good looks, of course)

  2. Shub says:

    Oh corruption *in* conservation, I see.

  3. Eli Rabett says:

    This is news???

    Corruption has always been an issue wrt conservation and has often been discussed.  And it ain’t just the third world.  There are outstanding examples in the American west, where various rich guys have threatened to clear cut unless they got the price the wanted.  Get a clue.

  4. Keith Kloor says:

    Shub, the story does not suggest that international NGO’s are corrupt.

    Eli, the story is about corruption in the developing world (not news), which enviro NGO’s, like many foreign companies, view as part of the cost of doing business in these parts of the world (also not news).

    The story suggests that international wildlife conservation efforts are being greatly undermined by this institutional corruption. Does that surprise me? No? Has it been much reported? You tell me. Much less discussed? Again, show me where.

    I will say that the issue of “conservation refugees” has gotten some play in recent years, thanks to Mark Dowie.

  5. Eli Rabett says:

    Google  – corruption conservation forest
    Lots of stuff from this year, from last year from last decade, etc. Illegal logging has been in the news ever since the year dot, esp in Indonesia, Brazil, etc.

  6. Keith Kloor says:

    How about you read the post–and my comment–more carefully, especially the part where it says “wildlife.”

    On that note, try googling wildlife conservation and corruption and see what that brings up. Which is to say, not much.

  7. Shub says:

    Wildlife conservation and issues about ‘illegal’ logging go hand in hand. I agree the article you linked to is about wildlife conservation, but how can you discuss one without talking about the other?
    The article has a note of praise for Brazil’s efforts at halting ‘illegal’ logging vis a vis Marina Silva. But where is such efforts taking them, but straight into the hands of a different breed of NGOs, literally selling off their forests for carbon credits to California.
    Is *this* a credible vision of environmental conservation? This turning of naturally occuring tracts of rainforest into carbon whorehouses is not conservatism.

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