Gaining Ground: In Pursuit of Ecological Sustainability

Lavigne, D.M. (ed.). 2006. Gaining Ground: In Pursuit of Ecological Sustainability.  International Fund for Animal Welfare, Guelph, Canada, and the University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland. 425 pp.

Our planet is in the midst of a biodiversity crisis.  More species are being lost more rapidly than ever before.  Many view it as the sixth mass extinction to hit planet Earth, but this one is quite different.  Unlike previous events, it is being caused not by some unavoidable catastrophe, but rather by the activities and behaviour of one superabundant, virtually omnipresent and dominant species – Homo sapiens.    If maintenance of biodiversity is a primary goal of the conservation movement, then the movement is failing. 

In principle, the ongoing loss of species can still be greatly reduced or curtailed.  But in order for that to happen, we need a new conservation paradigm.  That paradigm must acknowledge the lessons of history, the realities of the present, and what can be anticipated with reasonable certainty in the coming decades.  It also must cope with inevitable and inescapable uncertainties in a prudent and precautionary manner.

That message and the thinking behind it is the subject of a multiauthored book written by participants in an international forum organized by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the University of Limerick, in June 2004.  The book, Gaining Ground: In Pursuit of Ecological Sustainability, published in 2006, contains 26 chapters written by a variety of conservationists, spanning the fields of conservation biology, fishery science, wildlife biology, ethics, economics, engineering, and the social sciences. The authors come from such diverse places as Australia, Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, India, and the United States.  The contents should be of interest to all conservationists, including academics, undergraduates and graduate students, educators, wildlife managers, policy makers, and all people concerned about the current state of the planet and the human condition, and our attempts to achieve ecological sustainability.



The table of contents and selected readings from Gaining Ground: In Pursuit of Ecological Sustainability are available in Adobe PDF format.

Table of Contents, Foreword, Preface, and Acknowledgements

Chapter 1: Wildlife Conservation and the Pursuit of Ecological Sustainability: A Brief Introduction. David Lavigne

Chapter 4: The Notion of Sustainability. Sidney Holt

Chapter 5: The Changing Face of Conservation: Commodification, Privatisation and the Free Market. Sharon Beder

Chapter 7: Sustainable Use of Oceanic Wildlife: What Lessons can be Learned from Commercial Whaling? Vassili Papastavrou and Justin Cooke

Chapter 8: Ivory tower Sustainability: An Examination of the Ivory Trade. Ashok Kumar and Vivek Menon

Chapter 11: How Shall We Watch Whales? Peter J. Corkeron

Chapter 12: Attitudes, Values and Objectives: The Real Basis of Wildlife Conservation.  Vivek Menon and David Lavigne

Chapter 13: Between Science and Ethics: What Science and the Scientific Method Can and Cannot Contribute to Conservation and Sustainability. William S. Lynn

Chapter 14: Why Conventional Economic Logic Won't Protect Biodiversity.  William E. Rees

Chapter 16: The Free Lunch: Myths that Direct Conservation Policy and the Natural Laws that Constrain It.  Ronald J. Brooks

Chapter 17: Changing Public Opinion: How and Why Societal Attitudes Change. Robert Worcester

Chapter 21: What is wrong with our Approaches to Fisheries and Wildlife management? -- An Engineering Perspective.  William K. del la Mare

Chapter 22: Implementing the Precautionary Approach: Towards Enabling Legislation for Marine Mammal Conservation in Canada. Michelle Campbell and Vernon G. Thomas

Chapter 23: The Steady State Revolution as a Prerequisite for Wildlife Conservation and Ecological Sustainability.  Brian Czech.

Chapter 26:  Reinventing Wildlife Conservation for the 21st Century.  David Lavigne, Rosamund Kidman Cox, Vivek Menon, and Michael Wamithi