This book was inspired by the World Conservation Forum that took place in October 2008 in Barcelona, Spain, as part of the fourth World Conservation Congress (WCC)1. The Forum welcomed more than 7,000 committed conservationists who discussed and debated the urgent issues facing biodiversity today and to be expected in the future. More than 900 events took place during the four days of the Forum and this book attempts to capture the flavour, although certainly not the detail, of those discussions. We have freely incorporated many examples that were presented during the various WCC events, without seeking to specify what came out of which event. The chapters are often rather eclectic in their approach to the topic, reflecting the content of the various events and incorporating some of the current literature on the topic. The Forum Resource Centre (http://www.iucn.org/congress_08) provides access to all the information made available publicly by event organizers and speakers, including PowerPoint presentations, workshop reports, background documents and summary reports.
This volume seeks to put the Forum into a broader framework of global conservation concerns. While seeking to capture the key messages from the WCC in Barcelona, as editors and compilers we have sought to bring the various perspectives into a coherent synthesis that also draws on recent conservation literature. We start by reviewing the key issues involved; we then address the issues from the perspective of biodiversity.
Conservation for a New Era is intended as a milestone setting out current thinking for today's scientists, managers and politicians – all of whom face biodiversity-related challenges. None of these chapters are meant to be the final word on the subject. Quite the contrary, they are designed to help generate or sustain discussion and further research on the various topics being raised. We hope that the book also inspires everyone to act urgently to address the challenges to conservation. The breadth of topics covered in this volume also demonstrates that 21st century conservation permeates many parts of society.
We now have more compelling evidence than ever before that nature faces unprecedented threats, that these threats are caused by humans, and that the solutions are in our hands. The overview presented here points to some new directions for conservation, which will hopefully inspire an expanded constituency to engage with the challenges and compel action towards a more sustainable society. In the long run, collaborative and innovative action is our best hope to enable productive courses of action to be followed.
Jeffrey A. McNeely and Susan A. Mainka
1 Historically, IUCN separated its General Assemblies, which focussed on the statutory requirements of a meeting of Members, and Technical Conferences which focussed on the conservation issues of the day. Prior to the Montreal meeting in 1996, the IUCN Council decided that it would be more sensible to combine these into a single event, called the World Conservation Congress (WCC). The Barcelona meeting was the fourth in this new configuration. The three previous Congresses took place in Montreal, Canada, in 1996, Amman, Jordan, in 2000, and in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2004.
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