For most of us, attempting to comprehend global conservation problems is too confusing and leaves us in a state of unease at our inability to do anything that would be useful.
We read that cod and salmon stocks are a tenth what they were 50 years ago. At $73,000 paid at auction for a 200 kilo tuna we are told that tuna are too valuable to live. Whether it is the problem of excessive burning of fossil fuels or the destruction of rain forests or the slippage of giant ice sheets into the sea we are left floundering helplessly that anything we, as individuals, may attempt to do will in the end be of no consequence.
But perhaps there is another way. No one person can hope to influence corporate businesses that damage the environment. But what if each individual dedicated his or her life to the protection of just one plant or animal or insect?
Some might choose an otter or a badger or a curlew or a particular butterfly. If they were to lay to one side their attempts to understand the complexity of any particular habitat and focus only on their chosen species – what benefit might that bring?
Suppose in the UK or Ireland many people took to this idea and decided, for example, to take the curlew to their hearts and to do what they can to protect this particular bird – what benefit would flow from such commitments?
Confining their focus in this manner to this one species would be more beneficial than a scatter-gun approach of attempting to concern oneself with a multiplicity of conservation problems. Those committing themselves to the protection of curlews would quickly come to realize what is needed if these birds are to continue to be with us. It would be a small step then for the ‘curlew people’ in any particular country to band together into an association that would speak with one voice for curlews wherever their marsh habitats were threatened. Frog People and Heron People and Otter People, through their respective associations, could also add their voices to that of the Curlew People in protecting the same piece of wet land. That way, collectively, they would form a powerful political force in the defense of any particular piece of marshland. Each person would only be voicing his or her concern for the habitat of their chosen species but when these concerns are brought together like this the result would be a powerful voice that would carry considerable authority. This idea is discussed in more detail in Planet Dancing.
I believe that this simple idea, if adopted by the many people who are looking for a way to do something practical for conservation, would find this to be a powerful means of participating in habitat protection. That way lies people conservation.