Please note: not to be confused with the book by Jennifer Clack by the same title
Our planet is in the midst of a biodiversity crisis. More species are being lost more rapidly than ever before. Many view it as the sixth mass extinction to hit planet Earth, but this one is quite different. Unlike previous events, it is being caused not by some unavoidable catastrophe, but rather by the activities and behaviour of one superabundant, virtually omnipresent and dominant species - Homo sapiens. If maintenance of biodiversity is a primary goal of the conservation movement, then the movement is failing.
In principle, the ongoing loss of species can still be greatly reduced or curtailed. But in order for that to happen, we need a new conservation paradigm. That paradigm must acknowledge the lessons of history, the realities of the present, and what can be anticipated with reasonable certainty in the coming decades. It also must cope with inevitable and inescapable uncertainties in a prudent and precautionary manner.
That message and the thinking behind it is the subject of a new book, co-authored by participants in an international forum organized by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the University of Limerick, in June 2004. The book, Gaining Ground: In Pursuit of Ecological Sustainability, contains 26 chapters written by a variety of conservationists, spanning the fields of conservation biology, fishery science, wildlife biology, ethics, economics, engineering, and the social sciences. The authors come from such diverse places as Australia, Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, India, and the United States. The contents should be of interest to all conservationists, including academics, undergraduates and graduate students, educators, wildlife managers, policy makers, and all people concerned about the current state of the planet and the human condition, and our attempts to achieve ecological sustainability.
Co-published by IFAW and the University of Limerick.