EJ Milner-Gulland: Stories of Conservation Optimism
EJ Milner is one of the founders of ‘Conservation Optimism’, an initiative that aims to make conservation more inclusive to everyone. In her lecture she transported us to Cambodia where we were able to hear the sounds of the forest and the stories about her wide experience. She told us about the various threats the forest is facing, from deforestation to death threats for rangers.
Watch the recording of EJ’s presentation below:
Then we travelled to the Aral Sea where we learned about the past and actual situation of the Saiga Antelope. The species was on the verge of extinction and persecuted for their horns. Yet, despite all these pressures we need to see the other side of the coin, the Cambodian forest still is a beautiful, almost intact place, and full of biodiversity. The Saiga didn´t go extinct because big efforts were made. Apart from these big efforts that had to be made by scientists, there was an upside too; children in the area became very passionate about Saiga conservation. They are keen to engage with the wild world. Amongst all the difficulties we also need to remember these inspiring stories of regeneration.
After working in these places and training young people, EJ Milner noticed that the passion for making a change was there, so there was a need to keep going. It all started with a seminar and then it grew into conservation optimism that has become a network worldwide, which inspires each other, joins resilience and faces the problems we have.
She particularly showed us that it is important to be realistic but there is no need to demonstrate it with negative messaging and thus other approaches are possible in order to engage society. It is important for everyone to feel as a conservationist, to express and for people to feel that his or her voices are being heard. We are starting to see a change where society is feeling more involved, where politicians are pledging to support voices for nature and where companies are being eager to participate. EJ showed us that society engagement; collaboration with governments and companies can really make a difference. Hearing about involvement and collaboration between stakeholders is such an optimistic movement. The most important is that we realize that we should never give up and there is always hope. I think that I speak on behalf of all other visitors if I say that we all truly felt inspired by EJ Milner`s stories of conservation optimism!
By: Carmen Bolaños Avellaneda