Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences / Conservation Biology
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My main concern, as a conservation biologist, is the disappearance of nature. I have been a conservation biologist for 40 years now, working mostly in the tropics but also in more temperate environments. And I have seen, repeatedly, with my own eyes, what my species is doing to the natural world. The disappearance of so many populations of so many species, the destruction of habitats, the continuous encroachment on the natural world by humans worries me seriously. I always aimed to contribute to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, to restore wildlife populations and habitats. I am absolutely convinced that there will be not future for humanity on a degraded planet. But “biodiversity conservation”cannot be limited to protect only the species we need for our own survival. I feel very strongly that it is our responsibility to save the most threatened species of all, i.e. all the other the large vertebrates, highly representative of our natural heritage. My main focus has always been to contribute to the establishment of protected areas, and networks of protected areas. The next steps include the proper management of these designated areas, the development of recovery plans for endangered species. And the building up a constituency including local communities, but also local and national governments, other organisations working in the same areas.
Of course my own way of life has an impact on the environment we live in. My work makes me a frequent traveler, by these days, I try to limit my travel and restrict meetings to the minimum by using other means. I also adapted my diet, e.g. I only eat meat from animals that eat grass. I am faced with a complicated issue when it comes to my own daily movements, as I live about 130 km from my office. By train, it means a 5 hours round trip, when everything works well.
I consider that politicians who do not put environmental issues – nature and climate – as the number 1 issue on their agenda, are now totally illegitimate. There must be massive investments by our governments into saving nature, clean transportation systems, sustainable agriculture, and nature restoration (i.e. Green New Deal, New deal for nature & people). We must tend towards modifying in depth the current prevailing economic system, which is spinning out of control. Productivity must stop being seen as the ultimate objective. Regulations of the financial spheres must take place.