“The ‘future of conservation’ debate: Defending ecocentrism and the Nature Needs Half movement”

Helen Kopnina*, Haydn Washington, Joe Gray, Bron Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


The Future of Conservation survey, launched in March 2017, has proposed a framework to help with interpreting the array of ethical stances underpinning the motivations for biological conservation. In this article we highlight what is missing in this debate to date. Our overall aim is to explore what an acceptance of ecocentric ethics would mean for how conservation is practised and how its policies are developed. We start by discussing the shortcomings of the survey and present a more convincing and accurate categorization of the conservation debate. Conceiving the future of conservation as nothing less than an attempt to preserve abundant life on earth, we illustrate the strategic and ethical advantage of ecocentric over anthropocentric approaches to conservation. After examining key areas of the current debate we endorse and defend the Nature Needs Half and bio-proportionality proposals. These proposals show how the acceptance of an ecocentric framework would aid both practices and policies aimed at promoting successful conservation. We conclude that these proposals bring a radically different and more effective approach to conservation than anthropocentric approaches, even though the latter purport to be pragmatic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-148
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Conservation
Early online date6 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


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