We don’t have all the answers – and that’s okay

Compassionate Conservation is a progressive approach to nature conservation and it has four clear pillars on which it stands –

  • Do no harm
  • Individuals matter
  • Valuing all wildlife
  • Peaceful co-existence

As it is based on fresh thinking about how we as humans manage conflicts and relationships with other species, there is much to learn. We cannot look back at centuries of practice and have clear tried and tested examples on which to base our responses today. Instead we need to look to the future. We need to be prepared to walk new paths, and find new ways of working and managing land.

It can feel quite anxious – this ‘not knowing’ – it is certainly nerve-wracking, to not have the answers, to be unable to point to learned articles, or long-standing examples of best practice in compassionate conservation. But nature and wildlife need us to be brave, to have courage and to face into the unknown.

Current and conventional approaches to land management have been catastrophic for nature and wildlife. The State of Nature report for the UK demonstrates this with stark and depressing statistics. Einstein is credited with suggesting that to keep doing the same thing, over and over, and expect a different result is a sign of insanity. Yet this is how nature conservation is generally practised, too often practitioners resort to conventional methods of wildlife management – the gun, the trap; a violent, unthinking response.

If there are too many of a certain animal, shoot them; trees in the ‘wrong’ place, chop them down; we want more trees, so we plant them in plastic tubes and kill any wild animals who may nibble the trees. Over-management, constant interference, and a humans know best attitude (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary) lead to a countryside where bloodshed, pain and suffering have priority over thoughtfulness, empathy and compassion.

If we step back and decide to take a different position, one based on compassionate conservation – we will find different and better solutions. Humans are incredibly creative and innovative, and where there is a real desire and a true will to do so, we can find enlightened answers to the most difficult questions.

We believe that by ruling out violent approaches to land-management – burning moorland, killing wild animals, poisoning nature with biocides – we can establish a positive environment for the creation of progressive, thoughtful and compassionate solutions.

It doesn’t matter that we don’t have all the answers now, because what we do have is a rock solid commitment to finding new, fairer, more sustainable ways to caring for the countryside. Ways that will be better for nature and wildlife, and better for people too.

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