BES publishes report of our ‘Making Space for Nature’ meeting

Today the BES has published our report of the Conservation Ecology Special Interest Group’s meeting into ‘Making Space for Nature’, examining the ecological issues raised by the Lawton Review, and other current topics in nature conservation.

Main points raised by the lively discussion and presentations during the day include the need for academic and applied ecologists to communicate with one another in order to develop new tools which can inform conservation planning and practical delivery. Communication between ecologists, policy-makers and the public is also fundamentally important; communicating with decision-makers is an area in which the skills of ecologists is lacking, according to a recent report by the IEEM. The report also highlights discussion at the workshop around possible tensions between a landscape-scale approach to conservation and a species-focused approach. Whilst an emphasis on ecosystem services can engage policy-makers, the public’s interest in the natural world is motivated by species (hence the 8 million-plus members of Wildlife and Countryside Link organisations). Conservationists should not forget this if wishing to engage people beyond those already involved with NGOs, as volunteer recorders and in monitoring for example, and in aiming to empower further those who are engaged, so that they can influence decision-makers.

The report includes summaries of presentations by Prof. Sir John Lawton- discussing the main findings of the Lawton Review; Dr Pete Brotherton- discussing what the Lawton Review’s conclusions might mean for Natural England and others moving forwards; Prof. Chris Thomas – highlighting a new tool he and others have developed to identify those species most at risk, and most in need of direct conservation action, in the face of climate change; Dr Paul Dolman- discussing potential shortcomings in the Biodiversity Action Plan and the need to develop a new approach to conservation based on species’ common functional requirements (so-called ‘guilds’); and Debbie Tann – discussing the work of the Wildlife Trusts in the context of their ‘Living Landscape‘ Approach. All of these presentations are available to download from the BES website.

The meeting on which the report is based was held on the 19th April this year, at the BES’s headquarters, Charles Darwin House.