Human-animal conflict, turning a blind eye to the persecution of protected species, the impact of domestic and feral cats on wildlife… the list of awkward conservation subjects gets longer by the day!
International charity World Land Trust, believing that public scrutiny of controversial conservation topics is preferable to ignoring them, is hosting an event in London on 14 October 2013 to stir up discussion about aspects of conservation that are often considered too controversial to address.
Chris Packham, TV presenter, zoologist, conservationist and World Land Trust (WLT) patron, will chair the discussion and, no doubt, add his strong opinions to the mix.
“WLT is not a campaigning organisation but nor should we sweep major issues under the carpet,” explains John Burton, WLT Chief Executive. “We are pleased to have Chris lead the debate because he is always ready to voice his opinions in a scientific and reasoned way. Likewise we are delighted to have a range of expert panel members to address controversial subjects close to their heart.”
One of Chris Packham’s favourite conservation subjects is niche species. Which can we save? If we can’t have them all, which will face extinction? Do reintroduction programmes work? And is there a purpose in maintaining small gene pools in zoos and captive collections?
Vivek Menon, founder and Chief Executive of Wildlife Trust of India, will champion the cause of living alongside big dangerous animals. Tigers in India would seem to have little in common with badgers in Britain, but in fact both species cause conflict with humans, and both are vulnerable to persecution. Vivek will talk about the challenges facing conservation in India, a far cry from issues in the UK – or are they?
Mark Avery, former Conservation Director of the RSPB, will sound a rallying cry against the illegal persecution of protected wildlife. “Far too much illegal persecution of protected wildlife occurs and far too much of it is carried out by gamekeepers,” says Mark, who has recently been outspoken about Marks & Spencer and their nondisclosure of grouse suppliers.
Is it possible to be a wildlife-lover and a cat-lover at the same time? Many cat owners are in denial about the amount of wildlife their pet kills. And who knows about feral cats? In some countries they are automatically eradicated. George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy, maintains that cat-owners should face up to their responsibilities while, on the other hand, Celia Haddon argues on behalf of the cat-owner.
The event is sponsored by the Sibthorp Trust, which promotes the study and discussion of key environmental issues.
“All too often we neglect the controversial conservation issues as being too contentious and just too complex to resolve,” said Roger Crofts, Chairman of the Sibthorp Trust. “We cannot turn our back on them. So I warmly welcome this initiative from the World Land Trust, which we are supporting, to stimulate debate and seek ways of reducing and resolving conflict to the benefit of all interests.”
Controversial Conservation – A World Land Trust debate with Chris Packham will take place on 14 October 2013, 6.30pm – 9.30pm, at the Royal Society’s Wellcome Trust Lecture Hall, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG. Tickets (£20, Concessions £10).
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