Archives for August 2016

Setting Up an Organization to Advocate for Biodiversity Conservation

I have dedicated most of my life to advocating for biodiversity conservation. Previously, I did this through other people’s advocacy organizations. But now, I am thinking of setting up my own advocacy organization. In one of the older blog posts, I argued that the most important thing in conservation of biodiversity is proper identification and protection of endangered species. Today, I am not so sure. If you asked me today, I would tell you that the most important thing in conservation of biodiversity is proper advocacy. It is the proper advocacy that will, in turn, lead to the identification and protection of endangered species. And this advocacy can only happen within the framework of organizations. This is why I am thinking of setting up my own advocacy organization.

The logistics of getting the organization registered are not challenging. To me, it is just a question of going to the Sunbiz.org website, and applying to incorporate this sort of organization — as a non-profit entity. Unknown to many people is the fact that the Sunbiz website also caters for non-profits. There is, of course, some vetting that I will have to undergo. But I don’t expect this to be a challenge to me: seeing that I already have the credentials to set up such an organization.

The area where I really expect to encounter challenges is that of getting funding for my advocacy organization. I have no illusions that this will be easy. Some of the people I previously worked for are almost certainly bound to try to sabotage me. I also know that the funding for these sorts of things comes with lots of strings attached. But I also have confidence in my fund-raising abilities. I know that if I really apply my mind to the task of securing funding for my biodiversity advocacy organization, I will eventually be able to get it.

The Most Important Thing in Conservation of Biodiversity

People often ask me the question as to if there is one key thing that, when done right, would really make a huge difference in conservation of biodiversity. I often get this question of politicians, who are fond of reducing complex issues into sound-bites. Such folks are not really interested in reading the huge tomes of books that deal with the subject of biodiversity conservation in depth. They are not even interested in reading the lengthy articles on the subject, which occur from time to time in the newspapers and journals. And I can’t blame them: I doubt if I would be reading these things, if my livelihood didn’t depend on it. It is so hard to get people to appreciate biodiversity. Still, I have to answer the question as to whether there is one single thing that, when done right, would really make a difference in the conservation of biodiversity.

The answer is yes: there is indeed one thing that, when done right, would really make a huge difference in conservation of biodiversity. That ‘thing’ is the identification and special protection of endangered species in various habitats. When we talk of ‘conserving’ biodiversity, there is one inference to be made: that there must be some sort of ‘threat’ to the biodiversity, to warrant conservation efforts. And indeed such threat exists: as some species are at risk of getting extinct. With loss of such species, biodiversity would be reduced. So the whole effort is aimed at forestalling the extinction of such species.

In the final analysis, people who are interested in conserving biodiversity should be working hard to identify the species, within their localities, that face the danger of being extinct. They should then be working hard to ensure that such species are protected. If we get this right, it will really make a huge difference in the conservation of biodiversity. Of course, the whole thing is likely to work even better if the effort at conservation of biodiversity is coordinated at the global level. Such coordination can easily be done through the Internet. Using SBCglobal email, for instance, it would just be a question of the various folks who are involved in the conservation effort to go to the SBCglobal login page, and from there log into their Sbcglobal.net email accounts. After logging in, they can then proceed to send messages to each other, regarding their conservation efforts. Such high-level coordination can make a huge difference in the whole effort.

Getting People to Appreciate Biodiversity

It is not easy to get people to appreciate biodiversity. With the exception of people who have scientific training in areas like ecology, zoology, botany and environmental studies, the rest of the folks tend to have very little interest in matters to do with biodiversity. Yet it is critical for all people to be interested in biodiversity: because everyone has a role to play in the conservation of biodiversity. Thus a question comes up as to how we can get people to be interested in matters to do with biodiversity.

In my opinion, there are three keys to success in this endeavor (of trying to get people to appreciate biodiversity).

Firstly, if we are to get people to appreciate biodiversity, we need to educate them on the fact that all species within our ecosystem are there to serve a certain purpose. And that ecological imbalance is bound to occur, whenever a species in the system is interfered with. Then you can proceed to explain that this sort of imbalance can trigger a series of other imbalances, which can ultimately lead to a situation where our very existence as human beings is imperiled.

Secondly, if we are to get people to appreciate biodiversity, we need to educate them on the fact that biodiversity is beneficial to us as a species. This may entail a demonstration of the fact that if the generations before us hadn’t conserved the biodiversity, some of the organisms that give us medicine today wouldn’t be there. Those were more or less ‘useless’ organisms then, but our forefathers nonetheless opted to conserve them. Now we are benefiting from them.

Thirdly, if we are to get people to appreciate biodiversity, we need to educate them on the fact that biodiversity is beneficial to them, as individuals. This is a question of appealing to the people’s self-interest. Suppose, for instance, you are addressing the folks who work for a company like UPS: whose employees online portal is Upsers.com. That, of course, is not the site where clients with UPS tracking number slips can track their shipments’ progress. On the contrary, it is a site where Uspers are able to check their pay stubs, work schedules, company news and so on. While addressing such folks (like the UPS workers in question), you have to ensure that your message connects with their individual self-interests. That is the only way in which you can get the message to click with them.

But as we are all aware, most people tend to ‘tune off’ the moment topics like the one on biodiversity are introduced for discussion. Thus, special effort has to be made, if the message on the importance of biodiversity is to get through. The lessons on biodiversity have to be very carefully tailored. The lessons have to be very brief. The language used has to be very simple, yet attractive. The lessons on the importance of biodiversity have to be presented in such a manner that the targeted audience ‘sees the point’ in the whole thing. It is hard, but gradually, the people may get to a point of genuinely appreciating biodiversity.