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Global Nature Conservation Level 7


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor: Dr Simon Pooley
  • Assessment: a 2000-word report (50%) and 3000-word essay (50%)

Module description

We are living through a sixth great extinction crisis. In an era we now call the Anthropocene, humans pose the greatest threat to the natural ecosystems and wildlife we depend on (socio-economically, psychologically and spiritually) for a happy and secure life. Now more than at any time in human history we need to have an informed grasp of the challenges we face, and this requires a grasp of the ecological and social dimensions of the problem. Geography, spanning the natural and social sciences, offers the interdisciplinary framework required to do this. Conservationists acknowledge that their sector has for too long been dominated by the natural sciences, despite increasing calls for interdisciplinary approaches.

In this module we begin with a horizon scan of the current state of biodiversity, and outline the context and main players shaping contemporary conservation efforts. You will go on to discover the science informing how we think about and measure biodiversity, and how this informs the prioritisation of conservation efforts. You will get an overview of conservation planning and management, and the (often neglected) importance of evaluation. The values underpinning human uses of, and attitudes to, nature, and efforts to conserve nature, are too little factored into conservation efforts, but are addressed in this module.

Lectures will be grounded in case studies rather than only abstract discussion.

Indicative syllabus

  • Approaches to valuing nature
  • Environmental ethics and sustainable use
  • Strategies for community conservation
  • Culture, history, equity and governance in conservation
  • Human-human conflicts over human-wildlife encounters especially crop foraging (e.g. by elephants) and attacks on humans and livestock (e.g. lions, wolves, crocodiles) and illegal trade (e.g. ivory, rhino horn, pangolin scales, manta ray gills)
  • Strategies for coexistence
  • The major threats and transformation of the natural world
  • Visions for conservation in the Anthropocene - if we live in a post-nature world, is there any point to conserving past nature, and how should this inform our thinking on key conservation strategies like ecosystem restoration and rewilding?

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • identify the major threats to biodiversity we face in the twenty-first century
  • explain the concept of biodiversity and how it is deployed in conservation science
  • understand how conservation actions are prioritised
  • evaluate key strategies for conserving biodiversity, in terms of values, community considerations and conservation impacts
  • understand the importance for conservation interventions of planning, monitoring and evaluation
  • conceptualise human wildlife conflicts in a more nuanced and effective manner
  • articulate the challenges for conservation in the Anthropocene.