Pushing the Conversation on Compassionate Conservation

Researchers and wildlife mangers ponder what it means to value individual animals.

by Bill Lynn
Dec 9, 2017

Compassionate conservation is an emerging paradigm of managing wildlife. This approach stresses the moral value of individual animals and the efficacy of non-lethal management techniques. Knology research fellow William Lynn,an ethicist and social science, studies ethics and politics of sustainability with a focus on social justice, animal welfare, and ecological integrity. He has presented at several conferences including the annual conference for compassionate conservation. In one such presentation describing the Outdoor Cat Initiative, Dr. Lynn advocated for the need to balance the well-being of the entire community of life. He noted that “a concept of compassion that only takes the needs of individual animals into account is necessary but insufficient. To do right by people, animals, and nature, we ought to practice a deep compassion.”

One feature of deep compassion is the recognition that individuals are members of social and ecological communities whose well-being is also of concern. With respect to wildlife, the well-being of individuals and the human or natural community may conflict, and harm is at times necessary to protect social networks and ecological communities. Navigating this tension is an ongoing challenge for both old and new paradigms of conservation and wildlife management. We’re thrilled to be a part of this conversation that requires the perspectives of many people from different walks of life.

Have thoughts on compassionate conservation? Add a comment below. You can also read more about Dr. Lynn’s work on the ethics and politics of sustainability, and about the Marsh Institute where he is a research scientist.

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