What happens when conservation is part of the conversation? Last Tuesday, 26th February, Future For Nature Academy Utrecht held the first edition of ‘Nature Talks’. Joined by IUCN Land Acquisition Program coordinator in the Netherlands, Marc Hoogeslag, a group of young students and conservation professionals met in a quaint bar in the centre of Utrecht to discuss how nature conservation is done.
Moving between patches of habitat is crucial to maintain healthy wildlife populations in an ecosystem. Sometimes, patches of land can be strategically purchased to assist nature conservation. Land acquisition was the theme of the very first edition of ‘Nature Talks’, an event that hopes to bring conservation topics to young conservationists in a small, informal pub setting. Our guest for the evening, Marc Hoogeslag, has been working for IUCN Netherlands for almost 20 years and shared his experience on how buying land is used as a tool to protect nature.
Marc started off by giving a bit of background on how he ended up at IUCN, but quickly moved on to explain how the land acquisition program works. While awareness campaigns can certainly be effective in the long-term, sometimes, there is simply not enough time to start such long-term programs. When habitats become too fragmented, many species may become critically endangered. That is why land acquisition can be very effective in securing protection in and around natural areas.
However, we cannot just go around and buy as much land as possible. As Marc puts it: “It’s all about location, location, location. Acquiring a strategically chosen forest patch can very well mean the difference between survival and extinction”. So, by purchasing even small pieces of land, we can create corridors between formerly isolated patched of habitat and re-establish their connectivity.
Marc gave several examples all across the world to show how land acquisition works and highlighted the importance of involving strong, local NGOs. The local NGOs work on the frontlines of conservation every day and their involvement plays a critical role for successful conservation.
In the end, everyone got to ask their burning questions and participate in an engaging discussion. It was an inspiring evening spent at the cozy location of café Domkop.
By Nick van Doormaal and Mónica Vidal