Compassionate conservation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Eastern gray squirrel is considered an invasive species in some countries. Advocates for compassionate conservation argue that killing individual animals like these is unnecessary.

Compassionate conservation is a discipline which aims to combine the fields of conservation and animal welfare. Historically, these two fields have been considered separate[1] and sometimes contradictory to each other.[2] The foundational principles of compassionate conservation are: "Do No Harm; Individuals Matter; Inclusivity; Peaceful Coexistence".[3]

Compassionate conservationists argue that the conservation movement uses the preservation of species, populations and ecosystems as a measure of success, without explicit concern given to the welfare and intrinsic value of individual animals.[4] They argue instead, that compassion for all sentient beings should be what guides conservation actions[5] and claim that the killing of animals in the name of conservation goals is unnecessary, as these same objectives can be achieved without killing.[6]

Compassionate conservation has been a subject of criticism by some conservationists, who consider the discipline to be harmful to the goals of conservation.[7][8]


The international wildlife charity Born Free Foundation, which advocates for the well-being of individual wild animals, used the phrase "compassionate conservation" as the name for a Oxford-based symposium it hosted in 2010.[9] The Centre for Compassionate Conservation was created, in 2013, at the University of Technology, Sydney.[10] Ignoring Nature No More: The Case for Compassionate Conservation, a collection of essays edited by compassionate conservation advocate Marc Bekoff, was published in the same year.[11]

In preceding years, further conferences have been held on the topic and advocates have published multiple articles in conservation journals.[9]


Compassionate conservation has been called "seriously flawed" by certain conservationists, who argue that its implementation is impractical and could lead to negative outcomes for wildlife, ecosystems, humans[7] and native biodiversity.[8] Others argue that the "do no harm" approach goes "too far" and that put into practice, it would not necessarily lead to positive outcomes for the welfare of individual animals.[12] Andrea S. Griffin et al. argue that compassionate conservation's focus on empathy "is subject to significant biases and that inflexible adherence to moral rules can result in a 'do nothing' approach".[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fraser, D. (May 2010). "Toward a synthesis of conservation and animal welfare science". Ingenta Connect. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  2. ^ Gray, Jenny (2018-08-31). "Challenges of Compassionate Conservation". Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. 21 (sup1): 34–42. doi:10.1080/10888705.2018.1513840. ISSN 1088-8705. PMID 30325231.
  3. ^ Wallach, Arian D.; Bekoff, Marc; Batavia, Chelsea; Nelson, Michael Paul; Ramp, Daniel (2018). "Summoning compassion to address the challenges of conservation". Conservation Biology. 32 (6): 1255–1265. doi:10.1111/cobi.13126. ISSN 1523-1739. PMID 29700860. S2CID 23206524.
  4. ^ Ramp, Daniel; Bekoff, Marc (2015-03-01). "Compassion as a Practical and Evolved Ethic for Conservation". BioScience. 65 (3): 323–327. doi:10.1093/biosci/biu223. ISSN 0006-3568.
  5. ^ Wallach, Arian D.; Batavia, Chelsea; Bekoff, Marc; Alexander, Shelley; Baker, Liv; Ben‐Ami, Dror; Boronyak, Louise; Cardilini, Adam P. A.; Carmel, Yohay; Celermajer, Danielle; Coghlan, Simon (2020). "Recognizing animal personhood in compassionate conservation". Conservation Biology. 34 (5): 1097–1106. doi:10.1111/cobi.13494. ISSN 1523-1739. PMC 7540678. PMID 32144823.
  6. ^ Keim, Brandon (2014-06-04). "Do Conservation Strategies Need to Be More Compassionate?". Yale E360. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  7. ^ a b Oommen, Meera Anna; Cooney, Rosie; Ramesh, Madhuri; Archer, Michael; Brockington, Daniel; Buscher, Bram; Fletcher, Robert; Natusch, Daniel J. D.; Vanak, Abi T.; Webb, Grahame; Shanker, Kartik (2019). "The fatal flaws of compassionate conservation". Conservation Biology. 33 (4): 784–787. doi:10.1111/cobi.13329. ISSN 1523-1739. PMID 30977162. S2CID 109939975.
  8. ^ a b c Griffin, Andrea S.; Callen, Alex; Klop-Toker, Kaya; Scanlon, Robert J.; Hayward, Matt W. (2020). "Compassionate Conservation Clashes With Conservation Biology: Should Empathy, Compassion, and Deontological Moral Principles Drive Conservation Practice?". Frontiers in Psychology. 11: 1139. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01139. ISSN 1664-1078. PMC 7269110. PMID 32536896.
  9. ^ a b Marris, Emma (2018-09-26). "When Conservationists Kill Lots (and Lots) of Animals". The Atlantic. ISSN 1072-7825. Retrieved 2020-04-27.
  10. ^ Gray, Jenny (2017). Zoo Ethics: The Challenges of Compassionate Conservation. Csiro Publishing. p. 180. ISBN 978-1-4863-0699-2.
  11. ^ Bekoff, Marc (2013-04-16). "Ignoring Nature No More: Compassionate Conservation at Work". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2020-05-11.
  12. ^ Johnson, Paul J.; Adams, Vanessa M.; Armstrong, Doug P.; Baker, Sandra E.; Biggs, Duan; Boitani, Luigi; Cotterill, Alayne; Dale, Emma; O’Donnell, Holly; Douglas, David J. T.; Droge, Egil (December 2019). "Consequences Matter: Compassion in Conservation Means Caring for Individuals, Populations and Species". Animals. 9 (12): 1115. doi:10.3390/ani9121115. PMC 6941047. PMID 31835670.

External links[edit]