Last week, Wild Mob was off to Fiji for the 5th Island Arks Symposium.
Island Arks brings the best and brightest in island conservation and management, to share knowledge, start new conservations and work together for change.
After a week of incredible story sharing, here are some key ideas around island conservation that were really driven home.
1. Conservation = culture + people + nature
Island conservation is not about locking things away, says Sangeeta Mangubhai, Director of the Fiji Country Program at the Wildlife Conservation Society.
It’s really about managing environment so resources will continue to be available to provide for communities. And sustain their ability to undertake cultural practices essential to their very identity.
2. Value everything
Conservation is all about judgement, says Judy Gilbert, Trust Manger for the Windy Hill Sanctuary in Great Barrier Island.
We’re all making judgements about what we value and what we don’t value. And that’s ultimately really subjective.
The path to finding a common thread that is valuing and respecting different opinions, cultural understandings and ideas. As soon as we write someone’s value off, we write them off.
3. You can’t engage a local community with scientific peer-reviewed literature
Conservationists need to be able to communicate their message beyond scientific papers if they are to be effective. Science doesn’t always sell.
Of utmost importance is understanding and respecting the Indigenous communities and cultures on islands, says plant pathologist Alby Marsh of Plant & Food Research NZ.
We must innovate new communications strategies to help inform, inspire and empower communities to take action against the conservation challenges we’re currently facing.
4. We must prioritise biosecurity arrangements
Invasive species (including plants, animals and diseases) have the potential to devastate our island ecosystems. As well as the health, productivity, livelihoods and culture of island communities.
We need prevention, control and eradication measures in place to safeguard against new arrivals, stresses Lord Howe Island World Heritage Manager Hank Bower.
This includes inter-island biosecurity, agrees Professor at the University of the South Pacific Randy Thaman.
We can’t just be vigilant at international ports. There are thousands of islands around Australia and the pacific, each trading with one another, each with their own biosecurity needs.
5. We need to break down the silos
So many of us working on islands are battling the same environmental challenges: habitat loss, invasive species, pollution, exploitation of natural resources and climate change, to name a few.
It’s easy to forget this, working in separate silos and battling through seemingly insurmountable environmental challenges alone.
We so often don’t need to reinvent the wheel, says restoration ecologist and Business Manager for Treescape Environmental Jo Ritchie. We can jump on wheels that are already spinning elsewhere.
By working together and sharing our ideas, our knowledge, or skills and our resources, we can tackle issues collectively and effect real change.
Because at the end of the day, no one can save the world alone.