James Borrell is a biodiversity scientist and science communicator researching how people and nature can adapt to environmental change.

The Best Conservation TED Talks

While writing a shameless TEDx self-nomination the other day – incidentally, it’s definitely not cool to self-nominate, but it’s probably still marginally better that asking your mum to do it for you though?

Anyway, in the application one of the questions was which TED or TEDx talks have you most enjoyed? Well, I think there is a little bit of a paucity of conservation talks in the mix, but still plenty of wonderfully inspiring people to listen to.

I believe strongly that good, optimistic and honest story telling, is the way to peoples hearts with conservation. So here are a few worth watching if you have the time.

Feel free to add your suggestions, with links, at the bottom.

Lian Pin Koh: A drone’s-eye view of conservation

Ecologist Lian Pin Koh makes a persuasive case for using drones to protect the world’s forests and wildlife. These lightweight autonomous flying vehicles can track animals in their natural habitat, monitor the health of rainforests, even combat crime by detecting poachers via thermal imaging. Added bonus? They’re also entirely affordable.

George Monbiot: For more wonder, rewild the world

Wolves were once native to the US’ Yellowstone National Park — until hunting wiped them out. But when, in 1995, the wolves began to come back (thanks to an aggressive management program), something interesting happened: the rest of the park began to find a new, more healthful balance. In a bold thought experiment, George Monbiot imagines a wilder world in which humans work to restore the complex, lost natural food chains that once surrounded us.

(Some) EXTINCTION IS (not necessarily) FOREVER: Carl Zimmer at TEDxDeExtinction

Carl Zimmer is the author “Bringing Them Back to Life”, the April 2013 cover story for National Geographic Magazine. He writes about evolution, biology, and medicine for National Geographic, The New York Times, and many other publications. He has written a dozen books, including Parasite Rex, Soul Made Flesh, and Evolution: Making Sense of Life, a textbook about evolution co-authored with biologist Doug Emlen.

Notes from the conservation front line: Niall McCann at TEDxCardiff

I’m lucky enough to have shared a stage with Niall on a number of occasions – he never misses an opportunity to tell you about Tapirs! You may know him from prime time TV shows such as Biggest and Baddest, but here he is sharing stories from his early years and talking passionately about conservation on the front line.

Recreation and the Future of the Conservation Movement: Brady Robinson at TEDxBoulder

Brady Robinson is a climber and a leader of the outdoor recreation conservation movement. He serves as executive director of the Access Fund and chair of the Outdoor Alliance.

In the last few decades, support for conservation has been waning. Where will the future political and social support for conservation come from? Brady is part of the recent rise of human powered recreation groups within the more traditional conservation movement. Climbers and mountain bikers, he says, are a powerful force for changing the way we, as a nation, value our public lands. The new ways that people are connecting with nature will have a powerful impact on the future of conservation.

Corneille Ewango: A hero of the Congo forest

Botanist Corneille Ewango talks about his work at the Okapi Faunal Reserve in the Congo Basin — and his heroic work protecting it from poachers, miners and raging civil wars.

Lastly, it’s not conservation, but it is an approach to life that all conservationists could learn from…

Think Small: Alastair Humphreys at TEDxOxbridge

Alastair Humphreys is a British Adventurer, Author and Blogger. He spent over 4 years cycling round the world, a journey of 46,000 miles through 60 countries and 5 continents.
More recently Alastair has walked across southern India, rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, run 6 marathons through the Sahara desert, completed a crossing of Iceland, and participated in an expedition in the Arctic, close to the magnetic North Pole.