Saturday, October 27, 2012

Panda conservation is not 'greenwash'

This week, BBC checked in on the ongoing effort to save the Panda from extinction.  The Giant panda is a high profile endangered species and considered to be one of China's national treasures.  Due to continued habitat loss, a large number of pandas are bred in captivity.  It is no question that many dollars are being in spent in panda conservation efforts but not all conservationists agree this is the best course of action.

On October 15th, the Society of Biology held a debate at the Linnean Society called, "Do we need pandas? Choosing which species to save."  During the event speakers on a panel presented the case whether it is plausible to continue on spending the little funding that is available towards conservation on an animal that is charismatic and much adored by the public but at the expense of other endangered species that could be saved.  Pandas suffer from very low birth rates and has a history of many unsuccessful attempts breeding in captivity.  Scarce funds have gone towards trying to understand panda breeding in order to generate more successful attempts.

Biologist Simon Watt in particular spoke against what he considered to be 'greenwash.'  The article states, "Greenwash is the deceptive marketing of green public image, when more substantial environmental policies are not being implemented."  The argument made was that the money spent on a species that is difficult to save could be used to assist other species.  Others on the panel such as Iain Valentine, director of animal conservation at Edinburgh Zoo, argued that panda conservation is money well spent.

Read more: BBC Nature, The Guardian

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