New research in elephant services and benefits has revealed that many values are frequently overlooked when deciding how elephants should be protected.
The collaboration between universities in England, South Africa and University of Portsmouth have discovered that conservation strategies frequently have a narrow focus and prioritise certain natural values over moral ones.
The study discovered that financial benefits such as ecotourism, trophy hunting and as a source of ivory or labour frequently conflict with the elephants’ ecological, cultural and spiritual contributions.
Failing to fully comprehend or consider the value systems of all stakeholders involved in conservation leads to social inequality, conflict and unsustainable strategies.
Antoinette van de Water, a study co-author from South Africa’s University of KwaZulu-Natal, stated that, “We chose elephants as the case study because their conservation can be particularly difficult and contentious.”
Dr. Lucy Bates of the University of Portsmouth, explained that, “A blanket approach to values, whether economic, ecological or social, can have an impact on the success of a conservation strategy.” The paper was published in Ecosystems Services.
The paper emphasised that broader moral values, such as human rights, environmental justice, natural rights, and intergenerational legacy, play an important role in conservation success.
The study suggests incorporating moral values related to biodiversity conservation into the valuation framework. Because it will help to create a positive feedback loop between human and environmental benefits.
The researchers believe that taking this approach will help policymakers and managers understand what elephants mean to people. It can also be used to describe other species and ecosystems.
More information: Antoinette van de Water et al, The value of elephants: A pluralist approach, Ecosystem Services (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2022.101488. www.sciencedirect.com/science/ … ii/S2212041622000845