, Volume 43, Issue 7, pp 839–846 | Cite as

Identifying the role of conservation biology for solving the environmental crisis

  • Fredrik Dalerum


Humans are altering their living environment to an extent that could cause environmental collapse. Promoting change into environmental sustainability is therefore urgent. Despite a rapid expansion in conservation biology, appreciation of underlying causes and identification of long-term solutions have largely been lacking. I summarized knowledge regarding the environmental crisis, and argue that the most important contributions toward solutions come from economy, political sciences, and psychology. Roles of conservation biology include providing environmental protection until sustainable solutions have been found, evaluating the effectiveness of implemented solutions, and providing societies with information necessary to align effectively with environmental values. Because of the potential disciplinary discrepancy between finding long-term solutions and short-term protection, we may face critical trade-offs between allocations of resources toward achieving sustainability. Since biological knowledge is required for such trade-offs, an additional role for conservation biologists may be to provide guidance toward finding optimal strategies in such trade-offs.


Sustainability Conservation biology Social sciences Environmental policy Trade-off 



This work was supported by a research fellowship from University of Pretoria, South Africa, and incentive funds from the National Research Foundation. The author wishes to thank two anonymous reviewers for constructive criticism of earlier drafts of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Wildlife ManagementUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Zoology and Entomology, Mammal Research InstituteUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

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