Wildlife warriors offer a different view on conservation

Three leaders in wildlife conservation will give voice to their innovative and sometimes controversial concepts when they unite for a unique evening seminar hosted by Griffith University.

Dr Duan Biggs.

Recognised around the world as a thought leader in synthetic biology and conservation, Professor Kent Redford will join Griffith University’s expert in conservation science Dr Duan Biggs and Monash University’s Dr Carly Cook for a highly anticipated Impact Lecture at South Bank’s Ship Inn.

‘Navigating conservation’s cultural divides in a fast-changing, unpredictable world’ will build on a recent paper co-authored by Professor Redford, Dr Biggs and Dr Cook published in Science, in which they aimed to ‘overcome the polarized debates on the trade in elephant ivory trade in a less confrontational manner’.

“The high profile, adversarial debates on ivory trade undermine finding holistic and sustainable solutions to conserving Africa’s Elephants,” Dr Biggs said, who is a senior research fellow with Griffith’s Environmental Futures Research Institute.

Dr Biggs said the changes that have prompted the issues facing conservation include finding ways of covering the costs of conservation in the face of hunting bans, and using synthetic biology to control threatening invasive species and diseases.

He believes science can include cultural values to achieve sustainable and inclusive solutions for communities and wildlife, for example by involving communities in discussions on how best to solve the elephant poaching crisis.

Professor Redford received his PhD in Biology from Harvard University and has written numerous articles and books on synthetic biology and conservation, national parks, local peoples, conservation, and wildlife. He chairs the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN) taskforce on Synthetic Biology and Biodiversity Conservation. This taskforce aims to unite conservation biologists and synthetic biologists to discuss the future of conservation in an increasingly synthetic world.

Professor Kent Redford.

Dr Biggs works with policy-makers and international NGOs on the response to Africa’s Illegal Wildlife Trade crisis. He contributes to international policy discussions on the illegal wildlife trade, and other conservation issues, through his work with the World Wildlife Fund, the International Institute for Environment and Development and the IUCN’s Sustainable Use and Livelihood’s Specialist Group.

Dr Biggs’ efforts on the illegal wildlife trade focus on finding sustainable solutions to the crisis that involves and delivers benefits to the communities that live with wildlife.

Dr Carly Cook works in integrating evidence into conservation decisions. She works closely with conservation practitioners to understand their challenges and develop decision support tools to support conservation decisions.

Professor Redford, Dr Biggs, and Dr Cook will each highlight the urgent need for new ways of doing science for conservation that also incorporates cultural values with scientific evidence.

The trio will present why incorporating values with science is necessary to find inclusive, and sustainable solutions to conserve the world’s iconic wildlife and wild nature more broadly.

The Impact Lecture presented by Professor Redford, Dr Biggs and Dr Cook will be held at the Ship Inn, Stanley St & Sidon St, South Bank, from 6-8pm.

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