Reconciling ecological and social justice to promote biodiversity conservation

Eleanor Shoreman-Ouimet*, Helen Kopnina

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


In this article we focus upon a division between generalized schools of philosophical and ethical thought about culture and conservation. There is an ongoing debate playing out over conservation between those who believe conservation threatens community livelihoods and traditional practices, and those who believe conservation is essential to protect nonhuman species from the impact of human development and population growth. We argue for reconciliation between these schools of thought and a cooperative push toward the cultivation of an environmentally-focused perspective that embraces not only social and economic justice but also concern for non-human species. Our goal is to underline the ethics and tangible benefits that may result from combining the cultural data and knowledge of the social sciences with understanding of environmental science and conservation. We highlight instances in which social scientists overlook their own anthropocentric bias in relationship to ecological justice, or justice for all species, in favor of exclusive social justice among people. We focus on the polemical stances of this debate in order to emphasize the importance of a middle road of cooperation that acknowledges the rights of human and nonhuman species, alike. In conclusion, we present an alternative set of ethics and research activities for social scientists concerned with conservation and offer ideas on how to reconcile the conflicting interests of people and the environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-326
Number of pages7
JournalBiological Conservation
Early online date24 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


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