The Tyranny of Space
Earth so huge. and yet so bounded— pools of salt, and plots of land— Shallow skin of green and azure— chains of mountain, grains of sand!
Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1
Many different sorts of people care about conserving the world's species. Many of them influence conservation, too, and most are not biologists. The practice of conservation depends crucially on policy makers, politicians, economists, and engineers. Moreover, an army of concerned volunteers press on the body politic, giving of their time and their substance.
This makes the practice of conservation quite unusual. I know of no other branch of biological science that so involves laypeople in its front lines. You would not ask a pharmaceutical house to employ nonbiologists in its research and development. You would not go to patients to run the clinical tests that evaluate new drugs.
To be effective, our volunteers, our citizen-conservationists, must be committed. To be committed, they must believe. However, reconciliation ecology is neither a religion nor a political philosophy. If it were, I would preach it. But, at its core, it is a branch of science. So the citizenconservationist must first understand it in order to believe it.
In this chapter and the next, I will outline the science of the problem that diversity faces. Then I will explain some of the scientific results and