“Rare” Conservation Efforts

“Rare inspires change, so people and nature can thrive” – Rare

There are 345 species at risk in Canada, and the number of species disappearing continues to grow every day. Ontario is home to over half the species on this list, with over 200 species at risk in this province alone. As Alison talked about in last week’s post, there are a number of threats to ecosystems and species, including but not limited to: agriculture, climate change and human activities/desires.

If we are to correct this process of extinction we must change human behaviours.

The Canadian government has taken a more traditional (and conservative) approach to the conservation of terrestrial and aquatic wildlife. The continued undertaking of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) means Environment Canada carries out species assessments, public consultations, listing and recovery planning.

SARA has received criticism from scientists on the west coast, who argue that there are too few species on the list, and the marine environment is at a huge disadvantage, with no recovery plan ever being created for a marine fish. As with many of the government run processes, the process is quite lengthy and time consuming, but Julia Baum, co-author and assistant professor of biology at the University of Victoria, says that ‘it all amounts to deliberate stalling and inaction by the federal government.’

There MUST be a better way.

Can we incorporate social marketing principles to further species conservation?  YES!

Can we create real-change by an organization other than the federal government? YES!

Named as one of the top 500 NGOs of 2015, Rare is a Not-For-Profit organization that uses Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 9.49.16 PMlocal pride to harness the power of emotion and drive communities to change their behaviour and conserve their natural environment.

Rare takes a different approach to conservation, and focuses on what they call “bright spots” – successful conservation efforts worth repeating. Pride campaigns bring communities together over endangered species in their area to do just that – evoke a strong sense of pride over the species, to accelerate behaviour change and the adoption of conservation solutions to create lasting change.

“Rare turns conservationists into skilled social scientists by training them to research and analyze community motivators and message the need for change in a way that appeals to hearts and minds.”  – Rare

By combining the factors below, the organization is able to mobilize a community to increase awareness of their surrounding environment, identify and remove barriers that may be prohibiting behaviour change and then implement behaviour change solutions through Pride campaigns to achieve their conservation goals.

Rare Methodology

To date Rare has launched over 250 Pride campaigns in over 50 different countries. These campaigns have helped save the St. Lucian parrot, now affectionately known as Jacquot thanks to Paul Butler, a conservationist now part of the Rare team and the St Lucian government. To learn more about Jacquot and the story of Rare see the video below, where the President and CEO Brett Jenks talks about his organization, stories of success (like Jaquot!) and using social marketing to change behaviours around conservation worldwide.

Rusty patched bumble bee. Peregrine falcon. Lake Sturgeon. These are only a few of the species that are at risk in the Toronto area alone. Can we apply the same principles Rare did to the species in Toronto? Can a pride campaign evoke such strong emotions that Torontonians would rally together to save a species like the Peregrine falcon? What barriers must be removed for the preservation of these species? Is the pride campaign approach suitable for both developing and developed countries?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below…and remember:

“Local action leads to global impact” – Rare

References:

Species at Risk in Ontario

Fishery Laws Failing to Protect Endangered Species say Scientists

Rare Website

NYTimes Article: Harnessing Local Pride for Global Conservation

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