Lenore Fahrig

Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.

Lenore Fahrig is Chancellor’s Professor of Biology and co-director of the Geomatics and Landscape Ecology Research Laboratory at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. Dr. Fahrig is a highly-cited researcher. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Guggenheim Fellow, and she is recipient of the Distinguished Landscape Ecologist Award from the North American Association for Landscape Ecology, the President’s Award from the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution, and the Herzberg Canada Gold Medal, Canada’s top award in Science and Engineering. For decades, Dr. Fahrig and her students have studied the responses of wildlife, including plants, arthropods, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals, to human-altered landscapes. Her research combines simulation modelling with field data to evaluate the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation, road density, and the spatial configuration of farmlands and cities, on species distribution, abundance and diversity.

(Photo: BBVA Foundation)

Vojtech Novotny

Institute of Entomology, Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Science, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic

Vojtech Novotny is a tropical ecologist interested food webs, ecological succession, and biodiversity conservation in tropical rainforests. He is the Director of the Institute of Entomology (Czech Academy of Sciences) and a professor of ecology at the University of South Bohemia. He works mostly in Papua New Guinea where he founded the New Guinea Binatang Research Center.

Esther Turnhout

Professor of Science, Technology and Society at the University of Twente, the Netherlands

Esther Turnhout is professor and chair of Science, Technology, and Society at the University of Twente, the Netherlands. She is an interdisciplinary social scientist interested in understanding the interactions and power dynamics between different (scientific and non-scientific) knowledge practices and knowledge-governance relations in environmental and sustainability issues. She has worked on and participated in the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) with a view to critically analysing what versions of nature, biodiversity and sustainability are co-produced in global assessment processes, what courses of action they promote or exclude, and whose interests they serve. These experiences have sparked an interest in exploring ways to transform environmental and sustainability science to support and contribute to transformative change and human and ecological well-being. She has published numerous articles on the biodiversity science-policy interface and other topics in high impact journals, she is the first author of the book ‘Environmental Expertise: Connecting Science, Policy and Society’ with Cam¬bridge University Press and she is co-editor in chief of the interdisciplinary journal Environmental Science & Policy.


Conservation is not saving nature. This is not because we do not have enough of it, or because conservation suffers from a lack of funding or from problems of implementation. The very concept of conservation is a problem since conservation and exploitation are cut from the same wood. In this talk, I will develop this argument zooming in on the role of science in the parallel constitution of nature, its exploitation, and its conservation. It is for this reason that conservation has been powerless to catalyze transformative change, go beyond reproducing the status quo, and move away from offering false stop-gap solutions that do not address the root causes of nature’s ongoing destruction. Although this lack of effectiveness may seem paradoxical because of conservation’s self-identification as a ‘crisis discipline’, the discourse of crisis in fact further facilitates conservation’s failure to safeguard human-ecological well-being because it consolidates what has been termed the post-political condition. For conservation, this post-political condition manifests among others in the continued reproduction of a problematic singular concept of nature and an equally problematic singular concept of scientific truth. I suggest that the politicization and pluralisation of nature and of knowledge about nature are necessary antidotes to this situation; to open up and disrupt the post-political deadlock that conservation science and practice are currently trapped in. I will conclude my talk by discussing what this means for conservation and biodiversity science, and why these suggestions will face resistance.