Conserving species or habitats is inherently down to people. Conservation is an anthropomorphic invention. We will not conserve what we do not love and by extension we cannot conserve something if we cannot identify or quantify it, but there seems to be a bit of a disconnect between some ‘experts’ and what really matters in order to save species – people. Engaging people is possibly one of the most important tasks for any conservationist, which is why I try and engage as many people on social media and in person as possible. One thing that strikes me though is how averse some others are to this though. This brings me onto common names, which some experts hate. For example most members of the public would not engage with Deilephila elpenor but tell them about elephant hawkmoths and they will be hooked. Similarly Buglife did a wonderful job recently to save Nothophantes horridus, the Horrid ground-weaver. This is a spider that none of the people that donated to the appeal will ever see, but they engaged with the species never the less. So lets use common names (alongside scientific names) to engage with as many people as possible and stop being pernickety and actually get on with conserving things!
Even I have to be reminded sometimes that not everyone is interested in wildlife (no matter how hard I find that to believe). We need to be reaching out to people that don’t care all that much for wildlife. I am interested primarily and insects and plants, groups which I find it is increasingly difficult to engage the public with sometimes. As a extreme example, take midges. Most people’s reaction may be to kill all of them on sight, but next time you are tucking into some chocolate, think about the midges that pollinated the cocoa plant. But whose fault is it that they think all insects should be squished and ‘weeds’ removed? It is not the unenlightened public, it is all of our fault. After all, it will be all of us that suffer if we do not engage as many people as possible. We have to stand together, or we cannot stand at all.
If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos. – E. O. Wilson