Don’t let politics get in the way of conservation
I like to think that wildlife conservation is more important than politics. But of course in the real world that is often far from the truth.
But not always. While I am English, and while the British government and Argentine government have the occasional spat over the Falkland Isles / Islas Malvinas, that has never interfered with the conservation work that World Land Trust (WLT) carries out with its Argentine partner organisations.
In fact WLT has excellent relations with the government of the province of Misiones where we are currently supporting important conservation work.
I was therefore quite surprised when our American colleagues told me that they thought it unlikely that they could support conservation in Iran.
Not that we are currently supporting any conservation in Iran, but we do have a really good partner just over the border in Armenia.
Not only that, but one of our Council members has been very active in that region helping strengthen NGOs in both Syria and in Iraq. More recently he has put our Armenian partners in touch with conservationists in Yemen, and in fact Iranian conservationists attended a meeting the WLT supported in Armenia in 2011.
The Iranian Cheetah Conservation Society (which works with many more species as well) has done remarkable scientific research and, like most conservationists, they are happy to share their expertise and knowledge with others.
With the large carnivores of the Near East (now regularly called the Middle East!) all under threat or extinct, creating reserves and corridors is the only hope for their survival, and that means cross border cooperation.
Countries like Iran, Afghanistan, Burma need all the help we can give, but not from the top down, it needs to be the sharing of experience with similar organisations.
And money is not the only resource needed for conservation. Several of World land Trust’s partner organisations have come to WLT not for funding, but because they want to be part of a network of like minded organisations.
Land acquisition will always be the core activity of WLT, but there are many ways of achieving this objective, and we often need to be very creative. But the key to success and long term sustainability, is working with local NGOs in a true and equal partnership.