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This primer provides an introduction to the ideas of modern conservation biology, and the issues that constrain us from achieving sustainability.
Opening with a consideration of ecology and conservation as a science, and the notion of different processes happening at different scales, the primer goes on to discuss the importance of populations and life histories. It also emphasises interactions between different species, a key area of understanding for getting to grips with ecology. With a step up in scale, it then introduces the idea of ecosystem services, and the dependence of human life and well-being on these services. The long history of the impact of humans on the landscape leads to a discussion of myths such as the 'balance of nature' and 'pristine environments'. These concepts are crucial to understanding modern ideas of the right way to conserve our world.
Using the South Sinai in Egypt as a case study throughout, the primer explores explore the issues of how indigenous people can maintain their traditions in the modern world, and the relationship between their traditions and biodiversity. These form the key to understanding how humans can live sustainably with the natural world.
1: Conservation, ecology and science
2: Populations, patchiness, and movement
3: Rarity and extinction
4: Interactions among species
5: What processes create ecological communities?
6: Ecosystem services & human well-being
7: Indigenous people and conservation
8: Conservation strategies
Professor Francis Gilbert did his BA and PhD at St John's College, Cambridge, and then became a Junior Fellow at Gonville & Caius College and a Harkness Fellow in the USA before becoming a lecturer at Nottingham in 1984, where he has been ever since. He is an ecologist with two main interests: the conservation of South Sinai, where he has worked since 1986; and the biology of hoverflies. He has published almost 200 papers and 20 books, including books on the natural world for children of a variety of age bands, a popular account of the Bedouin gardens of South Sinai, a primer of hoverfly biology, and a guide to teaching quantitative biology. In 2004-7 he lived in Cairo and South Sinai in order to run a large project aimed at improving conservation across the Protected Areas of Egypt via research, monitoring, and public awareness. He is currently working on a monograph on the biology of hoverflies, a village history, and a guide to South Sinai.
Dr Hilary Gilbert did her BA in Modern & Medieval Languages at Girton College Cambridge. She ran a Volunteer Bureau and Nottingham Community Health Council before becoming an NHS manager, leaving that to join the King's Fund in London. She then developed and ran Derbyshire Community Foundation for almost ten years before resigning to join Francis in Cairo, where she founded the Community Foundation for South Sinai while doing her PhD on the relationship between the Park and the South Sinai Bedouin living within its boundary. She now researches the health and well-being of the Bedouin, especially the women, while running the CFSS and its UK partner, the South Sinai Foundation. She has written about her work throughout her career, from research reports to having had a regular newspaper column in the Nottingham Evening Post. She has a number of published papers and is currently writing a book on her work in South Sinai.