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Protecting Biological Diversity

Protecting Biological Diversity: Roles and Responsibilities

Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Protecting Biological Diversity
    Book Description:

    Catherine Potvin, Margaret Kraenzel, and Gilles Seutin asked scientists from developing countries to summarize their experiences of international collaboration and to suggest attitudes and practices that would lead to more fruitful exchanges with northern scientists. They also asked scholars to provide an analytical framework in which these issues could be discussed and to identify possible solutions to questions such as: What are the responsibilities of first world scientists involved in conservation actions in developing countries? How can biologists work toward the protection of biodiversity while being respectful of the human desire for a better future? The resulting papers analyse specific situations encountered in countries such as Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, India, and Panama and discuss the philosophical basis for environmental research. They also examine the work of two institutions whose projects in developing countries have been particularly effective through outreach and attention to local values and needs and who propose a pluralistic view of conservation biology ethics.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6902-7
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-2)

    Concerns over the risk of large-scale losses of biological diversity as a result of human activity were instrumental in the emergence of the field of conservation biology. This new area of research aims to develop tools that protect the Earth’s diversity of genetic material, living organisms, communities, and ecosystems. As biologists take on the task of conservation, governments, international agencies, and non-governmental organizations have become increasingly preoccupied with both the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The first two objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which has now been ratified by 175 countries, are “the conservation of biological...

  5. 1 The Development and Management of Protected Tropical Areas: The Need for a Code of Ethics to Guide Collaborative Research in Africa A Case Study from the République démocratique du Congo
    (pp. 3-11)

    Léonard Mubalama obtained his Master’s degree at the Durell Institute in the United Kingdom, where he examined the protection of African elephants. Until recently, he worked at Ituri National Park in Zaïre, but political tensions and armed conflicts in the Great Lakes region forced him to leave for Tanzania. His contribution summarizes obstacles to the protection of biological diversity in his country, as he recounts personal experiences of international collaboration tainted with inequity. Above all, Mr Mubalama calls for respect in international collaborations, through respect for local scientists and local populations.

    To date, ecological studies have identified and described some...

  6. 2 Considerations on a Code of Ethics for Conservation Biologists
    (pp. 12-25)

    The frustrating experiences related by Léonard Mubalama in chapter 1 are neither unique nor exceptional. We are inclined to think that they are often the incidental result of well-intended initiatives led by poorly informed people. One avenue leading to a resolution of this problem is the elaboration of a code of ethics for conservation biologists engaged in international actions. In this chapter, Marie-Hélène Parizeau, a philosopher at Université Laval in Quebec, examines the postulates of conservation biology and demonstrates that it cannot be a neutral science, since it is based on the assumption that biodiversity is “good.” Dr Parizeau then...

  7. 3 The Scientific Community and the Indigenous Emberá Community of Panama
    (pp. 26-40)

    It has been fashionable to speak of indigenous peoples as the caretakers of the earth and to consider them the keepers of traditional ecological knowledge. Little is done, however, to help indigenous peoples look after their environments. Rogelio Cansarí, a recent M.Sc. graduate in conservation biology from McGill University in Montréal, writes about the experience of his people, the Emberá of Panama, with anthropologists and, more recently, with bioprospectors. His testimony highlights the profound misunderstanding that exists between scientists and indigenous people, producing a situation that leads to fear and potential clashes. He shows that scientists need to openly and...

  8. 4 Cultural Lenses and Conservation Biology: Collaboration in Tropical Countries
    (pp. 41-57)

    The need for scientists to fully explain their work to the communities they are studying was the primary message of chapter 3.A priori, this task seems simple, yet it requires a mutual understanding of key terms, concepts, and values. In this chapter, Priscilla Weeks and her co-authors examine the importance of cultural perception to the determination of the value assigned to biological diversity. Scientists working in foreign countries must understand that their local colleagues and the local population may view study objects quite differently. A failure to recognize this can lead to a discouraging and counterproductivequid pro quo....

  9. 5 Conservation in Action: Assessing the Behaviour of National and International Researchers Working in Madagascar
    (pp. 58-70)

    Madagascar has attracted the interest of European and American biologists for many years because of the bounty and diversity of its flora and fauna. The island was recently classified by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre as one of the world’s eighteen biologically diverse “hot spots,” and it is the focus of many large-scale conservation initiatives. The long, rich history of contact between foreign scientists and Malagasy people, and current concern for the survival of Madagascar’s unique wildlife, make this country an interesting place in which to examine international scientific collaborations in biodiversity conservation. In this chapter, L.H. Rakotovao, director of...

  10. 6 Conservation Biology and Environmental Values: Can there Be a Universal Earth Ethic?
    (pp. 71-102)

    The opposition between preservationist and conservationist attitudes toward biodiversity has been extensively discussed. In North America, this debate underlies the tension between “deep ecologists” and “utilitarians.” In chapter 4, Lala H. Rakotovao and her colleagues show that this tension has spilled over to developing countries, where it adds to the difficulties of protecting biological diversity. In this chapter, Bryan Norton champions and advocates an alternative to the quest for a middle ground between “intrinsic” and “utilitarian” values of biological diversity. He explores new dimensions of the problem within the specific context of the Earth Charter, and argues that “placeless evaluation”...

  11. 7 The Notion of Effectiveness: Lessons from the Field of International Development
    (pp. 103-116)

    Several chapters of this book have stressed that cultural sensitivity is essential to making conservation actions efficient. Unfortunately, the training provided to conservation biologists in most institutions of higher learning focuses on understanding plants, animals, and ecology, and rarely includes an introduction to relevant social sciences, such as sociology, anthropology, and psychology. While the implications of cultural diversity and the need for cultural sensitivity are fairly new concepts for biologists, they have been central to the thinking of students and practitioners of international development for a few decades. In this chapter, Georgina Wigley and Heather Baser of the Canadian International...

  12. 8 Conservation That Makes Dollars and Sense: The RARE Center for Tropical Conservation Work in the Caribbean
    (pp. 117-128)

    When Victor Alleyne Regis of RARE Center for Tropical Conservation presented the following paper at the 1996 World Conservation Congress, many attendants were very excited by what he had to say. His energy and enthusiasm put their understanding of the positive contribution that conservation efforts can make in a whole new light. This summary of RARE Center philosophy, initiatives, and accomplishments provides an excellent concluding chapter for this book. RARE Center “helps people help themselves,” and its actions rely on the dedicated involvement of local communities and individuals. We hope that all conservation biologists who strive to protect biological diversity...

  13. 9 Conclusion: Blending Universal and Local Ethics Accountability towards Nature, Perfect Strangers, and Society
    (pp. 129-148)

    In their conclusion toProtecting Biological Diversity: Roles and Responsibilities, Anil K. Guptaet al. look for solutions to ethical dilemmas inherent in our understanding of accountability – the notion that conservation biologists do not work in a vacuum but are accountable to nature and to society. The authors note that conservation biologists and ethnobiologists have not yet proved their willingness to conform to either local or universal values. They also remind us that the world’s most biodiverse regions are inhabited by the poorest people. Their message, which pulls together the concerns of this book, is that the conservation of biological...

  14. Contributors
    (pp. 149-152)