Science

The tough decision of which species to save from extinction

The tough decision of which species to save from extinction

Dr. Rebecca Nesbit:

It’s a really complex decision that we need to make each time. And sometimes, we’re talking about extinctions. Sometimes, we’re just talking about what’s happening in a local area. So we’re not necessarily going to lose a species to extinction but we’re just going to ignore it and let the population decline.

The kind of ways we can think about are what is that species do? We could think about the species’ role in the wider ecosystem, for example. I’m going to think of an ecosystem that stores a lot of carbon. We all know what problem we’re facing with climate and how important it is to store carbon. So if we were to think of wanting to use an area for forest to have a lot of trees to store the carbon, then we could be taking that reasoning that we want to prioritize the species that will create an ecosystem that stores carbon. But that’s one possible way.

And another way we could take this question is, well, who decides? At the moment, a lot of conservation has been decided by a very small number of people. Whereas, we could bring far more people into this debate because we have, for example, around the world indigenous societies relying on nature, protecting nature, and not having their voices listen to. So part of how we decide is who do we bring into that conversation?

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