The urgent need to find new ways to tackle the conflicts that hinder effective conservation is the subject of an international conference to be held in Aberdeen August 21-24) at the Aberdeen Arts Centre.
Organisers say the challenge of conserving biological diversity is becoming ever more difficult as the increase in human population and levels of consumption put mounting strain on biodiversity and our natural resources.
As the human impact on our planet rises, efforts to conserve biodiversity and resources are coming increasingly into conflict with interest groups.
The conference, entitled Conservation Conflicts: strategies for coping with a changing world, is the first of its kind, and is being hosted by the Aberdeen Centre for Environmental Sustainability (an initiative of the University of Aberdeen and the James Hutton Institute) and part-funded by the British Ecological Society, the UK Rural Economy Land Use Programme and Creative Scotland.
It brings together leading international experts from a wide range of academic disciplines, with practitioners and those skilled in mediation and participation.
Delegates will discuss a wide range of examples from around the world, including conflicts over species conservation, such as tigers, snow leopard and turtles; conflicts over the establishment and maintenance of protected areas, such as the Serengeti and Scottish marine protected areas; conflicts over land use such as biofuels or agriculture, and conflicts over reintroductions and deer management in Scotland.
The conference will take a wide view of its subject, including ecological, economic, historic, political, sociological and philosophical perspectives. There will also be musical performances, and the first showing of the works of five artists who have been working with the ACES team during the lead up to the conference.
Professor Steve Redpath, a conservation scientist with ACES who works at the University of Aberdeen explains: “There is an urgent need to make conservation more effective by understanding the root causes of conflicts, linking with other disciplines and building genuine dialogue with others. The purpose of this exciting conference is to bring together experts from very different fields to share their knowledge and build a new framework for dealing with these challenging problems.”
Dr Anna Evely, who coordinated the event, added: "This conference is like no other. It is cutting edge, linking scientists, practitioners and artists to really get to the heart of how we can tackle and effectively manage conservation conflicts. We have attracted researchers, artists and musicians from all over the world; including Japan, Iran, South. Africa, Thailand, Australia, Brazil and the USA. Such an event has never happened before and the outcome for conservation will be ground-breaking."
Professor Ian Diamond, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen will open the conference. He said: “This conference is examining a topic of crucial importance to today’s society: how to make conservation work for both people and nature.
“ACES brings together interdisciplinary researchers working on this topic from across the University of Aberdeen and the James Hutton Institute. They have brought together a talented and diverse range of speakers from all over the world, to develop new insights that I hope will help us better understand the root causes of conservation conflicts and enable us to coexist with nature.”
The main venue for the event is the Aberdeen Arts Centre. Executive Manager Paula Gibson added: “We’re delighted to be hosting such a prestigious event and that the University of Aberdeen has chosen us as their partners for such a high profile conference. The facilities we have here are quite unique in the City Centre and our intimate 350 seat auditorium is a huge attraction to conference organisers as there is nothing quite like it in the city.
“As a not-for-profit organisation, the whole ethos of the conference fits well with our social aims, and our focus on accessibility. We think it’s very fitting too that delegates will be enjoying catering from two social enterprises that support and provide training for adults with learning disabilities – Fly Cup Café Inverurie and The Breadmaker, Aberdeen.”