Often, as a conservationist at aquariums and zoos, we feel backed into a corner that is not particularly well-funded. We may feel as though all the money goes to the commerce ends of our organizations and far too little comes to conservation. As such, we often pit conservation and commerce against each other. I feel that this is an unfortunate dichotomy.
If done well, commerce can support conservation through providing essential funds for doing conservation projects, as well as helping make possible alternative livelihoods through selling these products. Alternative livelihoods help to make sustainable commerce possible in range countries and reduce the appeal of ecologically harmful actions that degrade nature. In turn, conservation can also support commerce through providing authenticity to the commerce by helping guests to realize that their purchases actually make a beneficial change in the world.
I cannot stress how valuable it is for front-line staff at all levels to experience and use the concepts necessary to marry Conservation to Commerce. We at The Living Desert have decided to make this a core part of our actions on grounds. The tools needed for this conceptual union will be used to make gatherings of people more engaging and further the conservation commerce mission at the same time.
Conservation and Commerce – both work better when both work well together!
Dr James Danoff-Burg
Director of Conservation, The Living Desert, CA