Protecting Biological Diversity Roles and Responsibilities


151 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-7735-2159-3
DDC 333.95'16'091724




Edited by Catherine Potvin, Margaret Kraenzel, and Gilles Seutin
Reviewed by Patrick Colgan

Patrick Colgan is Director of Research and Natural Lands at the Royal
Botanical Gardens.


Much of the contemporary biodiversity at risk is in the South, while
much of the advanced expertise is in the North; as a result,
conservation efforts involve culturally mixed teams. This book, a
byproduct of a symposium at the 1996 IUCN World Conservation Congress,
focuses not on conservation itself but on the appropriate attitudes and
behavior of workers necessary for successful results: in short, a
professional ethic for conservation biologists. The introduction well
situates the issue in the context of the emphasis of the Convention on
Biological Diversity’s on conservation and sustainable use.
Additionally, it reviews culturally diverse views of nature, and how
science (especially conservation science) takes place in a social
setting, in this case the local humans in the area of conservation.

Of the eight chapters, three are case studies in Africa, Madagascar,
and Panama by Southerners of projects whose effectiveness has been
diminished by poor teamwork. Laudably, these studies move beyond
complaints and failures to programmatic steps for improving relations in
projects on biodiversity, as well as emphasizing the talents of women in
this respect. These chapters are complemented by one describing
personality traits found important in international development, a
second interestingly interpreting work at the Smithsonian Tropical
Research Institute in terms of cultural lenses and reflectivity between
collaborators, and a third reporting the success of the Caribbean RARE
Center for Tropical Conservation based on local initiatives, education,
and ecotourism.

Marie-Helene Parizeau well examines the mix of facts and values in
conservation and argues for ethical standards in working with local
people by paralleling treatment of sick ecosystems with medicine. In a
more philosophical vein, Bryan Norton provides excellent arguments for
moving beyond existing approaches emphasizing entities and associated
values to one involving adaptive management, dynamic processes, and
creativity. A weak concluding chapter fails to draw together the
strengths of the volume, although it does usefully add the issue of
intellectual property. There are good links between chapters, and boxes
are used to provide details and examples. Taken as a whole, this book
provides much material for a framework for beneficial conduct by
conservation biologists.


“Protecting Biological Diversity Roles and Responsibilities,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 22, 2024,