Ethics and Conservation Management or Why Conserve Wildlife?

This chapter deals with one of the most important aspects of conservation management: why we do it. When sites, and particularly legally protected areas, are managed by organisations which have developed policies to guide management, there may be little reason to consider conservation ethics when preparing a plan, though anyone engaged in nature conservation should at least be aware of the ethical considerations. Where there is no formal guidance, legislation or policy, planners must understand why they are managing the site. It is only through understanding ‘why’ that we are able to decide what we are trying to achieve and what we must do. Human values are considered, with an emphasis on scientific values and conservation ethics. One conclusion is that scientific values, if they exist, must be supplemented with the full range of other human values. The biocentric/anthropocentric divide represents perhaps the most significant issue in conservation ethics. There is a suggestion by some authors that this has done more harm than good. Norton (1991) offers a ‘convergence hypothesis’ and argues that the outcome, i.e. environmental protection, will be a consequence of both ethical positions. There is, however, at least one significant difference: the burden of proof. An anthropocentric approach implies that conservationists should have to prove that a habitat or species has value to people, whereas a biocentric approach requires a developer to justify their position. There is no consensus, no single and universally accepted conservation ethos. Conservation managers should be aware of the breadth of the debate and attempt to develop a personal ethical position.

Keywords anthropocentric, biocentric, deep ecology, ethics, ethical monism, ethical pluralism, instrumental value, intrinsic value, land ethic, scientific values


Nature Conservation Environmental Ethic Conserve Wildlife Ethical Position Oxford English Dictionary 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Recommended Further Reading

  1. Adams, W.M. (2003). Future Nature A Vision for Conservation, revised edition, Earthscan, London.Google Scholar
  2. Benson, J. (2000). Environmental Ethics–An Introduction with Readings, Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  3. Harding, S. (2006). Animate Earth–Science, Intuition and Gaia, Green Books, Dartington, UK.Google Scholar
  4. Leopold, A. (1949). A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There, Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Wilson, E. O. (1994). The Diversity of Life, Penguin, Harmondsworth.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

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