A Report from the World Wilderness Congress

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The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) once-a-decade World Wilderness Congress in Sydney, Australia wrapped up in late November.  SCI Foundation spoke with WILD Foundation Board Member, Brit Hosmer, who attended the meeting to learn what important items were discussed.

Ms. Hosmer reports that the eight day congress had over 6,000 participants from 169 countries.  Forums called for the increase of wildlife and marine protected areas and protection of primary forests.  There were also discussions recognizing the rights of indigenous people, climate change, youth participation, and wildlife crime. Through the congress, there was only one panel on sustainable use of natural resources that focused exclusively on hunting and fishing.  The panel was moderated by past SCI Conservationist of the Year Award winner, Dr. Shane Mahoney.

Although, international hunting was not the focus of the panels, sustainable, scientifically managed hunting was more often seen in a positive light and a part of conservation rather than separate or a negative practice.

One paneled debate, The Nature of Crime, focused specifically on poaching, wildlife crime, and enforcement.  The tension in the room was high with close to 1,000 audience members that acted as the real gauge of the debate. Panel members included representatives from the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), IUCN as well as government officials from some of the participating governments.

“It was an interesting cast of characters and opinions,” Brit Hosmer said. “For instance, there was applause for an assertion that regardless of philosophies, the trade has been stimulated by legal sales, and equal applause for the cautioning against conclusions that stopping the legal trade would mean stopping the illegal problem of poaching.  It was obvious, at this panel at least, that the conservation community is much divided on legal sale of certain wildlife products.”

To view the entire panel discussion click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3Jw-rWYClQ

The World Wilderness Congress is the world’s longest-running, public conservation project and environmental forum. The Congress has now convened 9 times on 5 continents and is dedicated to highlighting wilderness as an issue of international importance. It is critical that events and forums like the Congress and SCI Foundation’s African Wildlife Consultative Forum continue to engage those in the conservation community and educate the general public. Open discussion will ensure that the best policies are in place to sustain our world’s wildlife populations and we are happy to see what solutions stem from the stimulating discussions of this year’s meeting.

Twice a week, SCI Foundation informs readers about conservation initiatives happening worldwide and updates them on SCI Foundation’s news, projects and events. Tuesdays are dedicated to an Issue of the Week and Thursday’s Weekly Updates will provide an inside look into research and our other science-based conservation efforts. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more SCI Foundation news. 

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