The Conservation Conversation

The Conservation Conversation – an initiative of STICS – is an informal lunchtime discussion on topical issues held on the last Friday of every month. For more information or to get involved contact Emma Bush (

Future topics for The Conservation Conversation

26/05/2017: “Big Data and Conservation“: – Kirstie Hazelwood and Katie Samuels

12:30pm 3A142

TBC: “Intrinsic value and local livelihoods” – Jon Wilson

TBC: “Indigenous rights and conservation” – Richard Quilliam

Past Conservation Conversations

28/04/2017: “WHAT TYPE OF CONSERVATIONIST ARE YOU?: – Chris Pollard

The Future of Conservation project is a recent initiative which aims to explain variation in views held by conservationists, “as a way of informing debates on the future on conservation.” Included on their website is a 15 minute survey, building on review work, which positions the respondent along two axes:

  1. Are you more people centred or nature centred?
  2. Are you more pro-market or anti-market?

Completion of the survey will spit out a plot (example below) showing where you sit on these axes and place you into one of four categories of conservationist:

  1. New Conservationist (top left)
  2. Traditional Conservationist (bottom right)
  3. Market Biocentrist (top right)
  4. Critical Social Scientist (bottom left)

In this Conservation Conversation www discussed the Future of Conservation project, its aims, categorisations, and the potential opportunities the resulting data could provide.


31/03/17: “Hen Harriers and Grouse Moors” – Eilidh McNab, Jeremy Cusack and Andrea Hudspeth (Scottish Raptor Study Group)

Grouse shooting areas constitute a large proportion of the Scottish uplands. Whilst the activity contributes to rural economies, it comes with large environmental costs. Management of these areas includes widespread, intensive predator control, which can include the illegal persecution of protected raptor species such as hen harriers. In this week’s Conservation Conversation, Jeremy Cusack (from the University of Stirling’s ConFooBio project), Eilidh McNab (University of Stirling) and Andrea Hudspeth (Scottish Raptor Study Group) will lead a discussion on the conflicts surrounding raptors and driven grouse shooting.

24/02/17: “Transition or Conserve?'”  – Emma Bush

Can you imagine a scenario in which the UK government believed Newton’s law of gravity but then kept insisting on funding infrastructure projects such as floating metal bridges that ignored its existence? It would be madness! But isn’t that what happens every day for the fundamental laws of Ecology? Rational human beings have come to understand that the earth consists of finite resources and yet communally and individually we continue to act as if this were not true.

In this lunchtime discussion we explored the following questions:

  • What are the “fundamental laws” or principles of ecology?
  • How transformational could ecological principles be for governance and economics?
  • Why do governments talk as if they understand ecology and then continue to act as if we live on a planet with infinite resources?
  • Is ecology subservient to economy or the other way around?
  • Could “Transition Science” be a better way than traditional “Conservation Science” to apply our ecological knowledge of the world to the problems of the world?

09/12/16: “Bitesize Brexit” Isabel Jones and Chris Pollard

04/11/16: “To trade or not to trade ivory?” Nils Bunnefeld and Phyllis Lee

26/11/15: “Biological invasions: time to increase the pressure against invaders or lay down the pitch forks?” Zarah Pattison and Katie Murray

30/10/15: “Is Climate Change the greatest threat to biodiversity?” Emma Bush

25/09/15: “Trophy hunting and Cecil the lion” Isabel Jones, Chris Pollard and Emma Bush

26/06/2015: “Nature documentaries and science” Isabel Jones

29/05/15: “Science, policy and making your mum proud”Emma Bush and Chris Pollard