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Whilst the science of conservation biology is thriving as a discipline, ultimately global conservation is failing. Why, when the majority of people say they value nature and its protection? David Johns argues that the loss of species and healthy ecosystems is best understood as human imposition of a colonial relationship on the non-human world – one of exploitation and domination. Global institutions benefit from transforming nature into commodities, and conservation is a low priority. Conservation Politics places political issues at the forefront, and tackles critical questions of conservation efficacy. It considers the role of effective influence on decision making, key policy changes to reduce human footprint, and the centrality of culture in mobilising support. It draws on political lessons from successful social movements, including human anti-colonial struggles, to provide conservation biologists and practitioners in scientific and social science disciplines and NGOs with the tools and wider context to accelerate their work's impact.
Part I. The Problem:
1. The Tragedy of Political Failure
2. Like It or Not, Politics is the Solution
Part II. Getting the Questions Right:
3. Ten Questions for Conservation Politics
4. Adapting Society to the Wild
5. Striking at the Roots
6. Domination and the Intractability of Energy Problems
Part III. Taking the Offensive:
7. Turning the Tide
8. Lessons from Large Scale Conservation
9. Doing Large-Scale Restoration
10. The Other Connectivity
11. The Special Challenge of Marine Conservation
12. The Biological Sciences and Conservation
Part IV. Culture Change:
13. Conservation, George Orwell and Language
14. Restoring Story and Myth
15. Conservation's Moral Imperative
David Johns is both a conservation practitioner and Adjunct Professor of Political Science in the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University, where he teaches courses on politics and the environment, US constitutional law, and politics. He has published extensively on science, politics, and conservation issues. He is cofounder of the Wildlands Network, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, and Conservation Biology Institute, and is currently Chair of the Marine Conservation Institute board which created the Global Ocean Refuge System Initiative. He has worked with NGOs on conservation projects in the Russian Far East, Australia, Europe, southern Africa and throughout the Americas. He is recipient of the Denver Zoological Foundation's Conservation Award, 2007.
"Bruce Babbit, when he was Secretary of the Interior, was fond of saying to conservationists, 'Don't expect me to do the right thing, make me do it'. Conservationists made impressive strides after Rachel Carson's Silent Spring by relying on passion and persuasion, but little progress has been made since the 1970s, as corporate opposition has coalesced into a powerful counter-movement. Meanwhile, with shrinking opportunities for habitat protection and the looming specter of climate change, the need for further progress is greater than ever. David Johns, a political scientist with a deep interest in popular movements, makes the case that conservation will only return to the forefront of the nation's agenda when citizens mobilize into a vigorous movement with the energy to elect advocates to positions of political power. His new book offers deep insights into how to achieve this goal."
– John W. Terborgh, Duke University
"The scientific case has been made. Poets have spoken with deep feeling. Now comes the hard part. In this well-written and very timely book, David Johns lays out the practical, political steps required to save the rest of life on Earth, and ultimately ourselves."
– Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University
"We the people must accept that any conservation activity of worth must be a political act. This is a simple but not a small idea. The insults foisted upon Mother Earth are so pervasive, that nothing less than the world's greatest collective action will suffice as redress. Politics is the only scheme that can organize and advance such action. David Johns writes clearly to this end from the hard ground of history and science. His book is a call to arms to use politics to promote peace, prosperity, and justice for all life. Let's hope that we the people heed the call. Every future depends on it."
– Mike Phillips, Turner Endangered Species Fund, US
"David Johns has done it again! The author of A New Conservation Politics brings his wide knowledge of the conservation movement and other social movements to provide practical insights on how to make conservation more effective. This book fills a critical gap in the conservation literature by explaining how to overcome the political obstacles to conservation. For those who care about the extinction crisis he offers a path to action beyond business-as-usual. In the end, conservation is too complex to leave it to scientists, and much too important to leave it to politicians. He combines both worlds into a powerful mix."
– Ignacio Jiménez Pérez, The Conservation Land Trust, Argentina
"In the 30 years I've worked with Dave Johns for things wild and free, I've seen him become a leading activist on the visionary cutting edge of rewilding and also as our deepest thinker on effective activism. Witness his latest book."
– Dave Foreman, Earth First!, US