In 2015 I was a burned out conservationist–frustrated and tired of the doom and gloom I encountered day in and day out, working as the Director of a grass-roots charity devoted to wildlife conservation and one health in Africa. Out of the ashes from this challenging time came a rebirth of sorts. I developed a philosophical and practical approach to conservation, which I termed Conscious Conservation. I wrote a book on the topic, and continue to teach the conscious approach to conservation today.
My hope is that this book will serve as a catalyst for significant global change. It was written to encourage us all to first look deep within, before looking without, to the root cause of the challenges we face as conservationists. I hope to inspire each of you to recognize that, despite the crises, we are never without hope. That in order to heal our planet, we must first heal ourselves. This book represents the evolution of conservation to a new paradigm, one that combines mind and mindset to produce conscious conservation.
The following is a brief excerpt from my book, Conscious Conservation: Less Doing, More Being.
“We have practiced unconscious conservation far too long. Unconscious conservation is an unsustainable way of creating lasting positive change for the planet. As unconscious conservationists, we rely on a zero-sum mentality of right and wrong, winner versus loser, and an us-versus-them mentality. We focus on and share negative news, which promotes a fear-based approach to conservation. We are reactionary, with a tendency toward anxiety and depression from a focus on the tragedies of the past or the disasters of the future. We attempt to control or force our foes to comply with regulations and restrictions based on a “can’t do” mindset, and we blame, shame, and label others as “part of the problem.” We identify and focus on obstacles and problems, and attempt to fix only the more superficial issues or surface problems. We desire violent or forceful approaches to protecting wildlife and wild spaces. We have a mentality of lack and compete with colleagues for funds, recognition, and even for claiming a species as ours alone to protect and save. We rely exclusively on logic, reason, and facts in the decision-making process, and ignore our intuition, as well as the social, emotional, cultural, psychological, and economic aspects of conservation challenges.
Conscious conservation is an evolution of conservation that combines the modern holistic approach with awareness, intuition, and compassion for the global challenges we face. It is a transformative way of “being,” rather than “doing,” conservation, whereby the individual embodies that which they envision for the world. It places humans within the global ecosystem rather than outside of it, and thus emphasizes a focus on humans as a species to bring back into balance in order to restore the balance of the global ecosystem as a whole.
Conscious conservation requires three significant shifts: a shift in your point of view, a shift in your mindset, and a shift in your approach.
A shift in point of view by:
- Viewing all humans as potential conservationists
- Including humans as an interdependent component of the ecosystem
- Seeing opportunities and challenges rather than obstacles
A shift in mindset by:
- Cultivating a mentality of abundance
- Focusing less on the ego and more on the inner connection to all life
- Protecting Mother Nature and viewing conservation challenges from a place of compassion rather than anger
A shift in approach toward:
- Focusing on solving human-based problems as a necessary focus of modern conservation
- Empowering humans within the challenge to become part of the solution
- Promoting the community-based approach to conservation that involves options for “can do” rather than “can’t do,” as well as the sustainable utilization of natural resources, including plants and animals
- Preserving biodiversity, restoring healthy ecosystems, and promoting the value of free-ranging wildlife as beneficial to human livelihoods
Raising awareness and education:
- Seeking to inspire rather than use fear-based doom and gloom
Addressing conservation challenges:
- Asking why and taking a deep dive into the root causes of conservation challenges
- Balancing science with a more intuitive approach to solve conservation challenges (science + intuition= conservation in action)
As you learn about the shifts and the tenets of conscious conservation, I encourage you to focus on identifying the areas in your own work where you are stuck in an unconscious viewpoint, thought pattern, or approach to conservation, and work to shift into a conscious viewpoint, thought pattern, or approach. In time I believe you will see a significant change in yourself as well as in your life, your work, and your impact on conservation.”
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