Personal traits predict conservationists’ optimism about outcomes for nature

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Figure 2: Expectations about conservation outcomes in the next 10 years. The perceived likelihood that 10 nationally focused conservation outcomes indicative of the five Strategic Goals (A–E) of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Biodiversity Targets (SO-1 to SO-10), and locally focused goals (SO-11), will be met by 2030 (CBD, 2010). Respondents were asked to think about the country whose conservation context they were most familiar with when evaluating the 10 nationally focused outcomes. Respondents were asked to think about the specific conservation area or context they were most familiar with when evaluating the locally focused goals

In the face of unprecedented biodiversity loss, the belief that conservation goals can be met could play an important role in ensuring they are fulfilled. We asked conservationists how optimistic they felt about key biodiversity outcomes over the next 10 years; 2341 people familiar with conservation in 144 countries responded. Respondents expressed optimism that enabling conditions for conservation would improve but felt pressures would continue, and the state of biodiversity was unlikely to get better. Respondents with greater general optimism about life, at early-career stages, and working in practice and policy (compared to academia) reported higher conservation optimism. But most of our biodiversity and conservation status indicators were not associated with conservation optimism. Unbounded optimism without appropriate action would be misguided in the face of growing threats to biodiversity. However, supporting those struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel could help sustain efforts to overcome these threats.

Pienkowski, T., Keane, A., de Lange, E., Khanyari, M., Arlidge, W. N. S., Baranyi, G., Brittain, S., Castelló y Tickell, S., Hazenbosch, M., Papworth, S., & Milner-Gulland, E. J.Personal traits predict conservationists’ optimism about outcomes for nature. Conservation Letters. 2022; 00 e12873. https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12873