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

The Harsh Reality of Conservation

Lots of people start out in conservation because, unsurprisingly, they like animals. Yet the more time you spend in conservation, the more you recognize that doing what is best for the natural world, often results in difficult decisions and tough actions.

I think it’s very important to come to terms with this early on. Often, it’s human interventions that have unbalanced an ecosystem in the first place, so I support efforts to put things right.

It might be something as simple as clearing invasive plant species – to which few people raise a significant objection (less people care about plants!). Perhaps it is culling populations of animals that have lost their natural predators, such as deer in the highlands.

Or perhaps, as in the video below, it is teaching captive bred predators how to hunt.

It’s a harsh reality, and no doubt many will find it uncomfortable. But it is this – it is nature – or we let a species like the Black-footed Ferret slide to extinction.

Saving the Black-footed Ferret

What do you think? Does it still make you want to work in conservation? Has to be better than a career as a prairie dog!