by Mark Aspelin
Part 1 of a 5-part series
When it comes to protecting half of the Earth to conserve biodiversity, we all have a role to play, and corporations are no exception. In fact, businesses of all shapes and sizes will play a critical role in making Half-Earth a reality.
In this five-part blog series, we’ll explore how corporations can address four of the five major threats to biodiversity, often referred to as HIPPO: habitat destruction, invasive species, pollution, and overharvesting. Climate change is part of “H” as it plays a major role in altering and destroying habitats. I’ll be providing you with some real-world examples of how companies are tackling these issues today. We’ll also look at how businesses can work with the Half-Earth Project to manage these threats to biodiversity.
While the goal of Half-Earth is to protect half the land and sea in order to safeguard the bulk of biodiversity, this does not mean that large tracts of land will be fenced off and protected from human trespass. As anyone with on-the-ground conservation experience can attest to, conservation measures can’t be separated from human activities and interests. To be successful, strategies to protect biodiversity must be integrated with strategies that consider economic and social concerns.
The Half-Earth Project is busy working on a variety of initiatives to drive research, provide leadership, and engage people to participate broadly in the goal to conserve half of our planet. One important initiative that launched in March 2018 and was featured in a NY Times Op-Ed by E.O Wilson, “Mapping Earth’s Species to Identify Conservation Priorities” (https://www.half-earthproject.org/blog-posts/2018/3/5/mapping-earths-species-to-identify-conservation-priorities), is the creation of a cutting-edge biodiversity map that will support data-driven conservation. As the map takes shape in the coming years, we’ll no doubt discover that a significant chunk of the land that we would like to protect is either privately held or greatly influenced by the operations and purchasing decisions of corporations. The achievement of Half-Earth will, therefore, include broad stakeholder participation.
My hope is that this blog series will provide you with a glimpse of how we can bridge the gap between the efforts of corporations and biologists to protect our planet’s wildlife, biodiversity, and natural resources. Fortunately, conservation versus profit is not a zero-sum game where the winner takes all. There are many win-win scenarios, which are good for business (e.g., reduced costs, reduced risk, and increased profits) and good for biodiversity (e.g., healthy species, populations, and ecosystems).
Next week, I’ll be focusing on the biggest threat to biodiversity, habitat destruction, and I’ll share some strategies and examples of how companies can address this issue.
In the meantime, I hope you’ll make plans to attend the October 22, 2018 Half-Earth Day event that will be held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. This year’s event includes a “Learning from Local Stewards” panel discussion highlighting key learnings from in-country indigenous and local community leaders, as well as a panel called “Half-Earth: How to Save the Natural World” that will be moderated by NY Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman and feature E.O. Wilson and legendary recording artist Paul Simon. To learn more about Half-Earth Day, visit http://www.half-earthproject.org/half-earth-day. I hope to see you there!
Mark Aspelin is the Founder and CEO of Profitable Conservation LLC and author of the newly released book “Profitable Conservation: Business Strategies That Boost Your Bottom Line, Protect Wildlife, and Conserve Biodiversity.”