Q&A – How can we save species?

Do you have questions about how to save species?

At this Q&A, we asked Jon Paul Rodríguez, who spoke about ‘Reversing the Red’; Mariana Martinez del Rio, who worked on the project ‘Women of the Land: conservation of golden eagle in Mexico‘; and Dan Danahar, a teacher at the Dorothy Stringer School who spoke about ‘Butterflies as agents of change within a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve’ your questions about what we can all do to help save species and increase biodiversity.

This Q&A session was chaired by Mike Maunder.

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Reversing the Red

Find out from Venezuela's leading conservation biologist and chair of the Species Survival Commission how conservation efforts are saving endangered species and hear about his vision for enhancing conservation capacity around the world.

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Women of the Land: conservation of golden eagle in Mexico

Women of the Land tells the story of a group of women in a natural area in Mexico, who, inspired by their children, decide to get involved in the conservation of the golden eagle.

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Butterflies as agents of change within a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

How school children and their inspiring teacher created an extraordinary reserve for butterflies in the heart of their campus - and have gone on to use butterflies as flagships for conservation from Sussex to Ghana.

Dr Mike Maunder

Dr Mike Maunder is the Executive Director of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, based in the University of Cambridge Judge Business School.

He started his conservation career studying horticulture and plant taxonomy and developed a love for island endemic plants, later doing a PhD on the conservation management of threatened plants at the University of Reading. Whilst at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew he developed a set of international plant and habitat conservation partnerships with a focus on East Africa and oceanic islands. He has kept his deep interest in tropical conservation through working with the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens and Florida International University in Miami, the Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and the conservation network of the Eastern Africa Plant Red List Authority. Having worked on the extinction frontline in places like Hawaii, he is deeply committed to the restoration of biodiversity and he is happiest working in the hybrid zones between culture, science, policy, business and conservation delivery. One of his priorities is working with the next generation of conservation practitioners, they are proving to be cross-disciplinary, agile and bold!

Photo credit: Stuart Bearhop

Jon Paul Rodríguez

Species Survival Commission (SSC) Chair Dr Jon Paul Rodríguez is Professor at the Centre for Ecology of the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Investigations (Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas – IVIC), and he is a founder, past Board Member (1987-2001, 2009-2012) and President (2001-2008, 2013-present) of Provita (a Venezuelan conservation NGO established in 1987). His undergraduate degree in biology is from Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas (1991). He was then awarded a Fulbright scholarship for a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University (1999).

In addition to serving on the Steering Committee of SSC, Jon Paul is actively involved in the development of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems, an initiative led by the Commission on Ecosystem Management. His work focuses on understanding patterns in the spatial distribution of threatened species and ecosystems, as well as the underlying causes of these patterns, and the development of policy guidelines for biodiversity conservation. He is author or co-author of more than 150 publications, including many peer-reviewed articles in acclaimed scientific journals.

Photo credit: Alberto Blanco

Mariana Martinez del Rio

Mariana was born and raised in Mexico, surrounded by striking nature, which inspired her to protect it. She is currently studying the MPhil in Conservation Leadership at the University of Cambridge. She studied a BS in Sustainable Development Engineering, leading several projects related to conservation of wildlife and local biodiversity, while completing her studies. She later worked with CCMSS, a Mexican NGO focused on sustainable silviculture, where she learnt the value of strengthening local communities’ governance in order to sustainably manage natural resources. Being a part of multiple projects allowed her to further understand the symbiotic relationship that emerges between indigenous or local communities and nature. Mariana then joined the Coordination Unit of the GEF Species at Risk Project with UNDP in collaboration with the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas, strengthening protected areas to better conserve 14 species and their habitat. Her key goal is to help shape a world where humans can thrive in unison with nature.

Dan Danahar

Dr Dan Danahar is a biodiversity educationalist, who has led a number of local initiatives within his home city of Brighton & Hove, including persuading the public to count butterflies. This inspired the national UK charity Butterfly Conservation to develop the annual Big Butterfly Count. In 2010 as part of the International Year of Biodiversity Dan led a citywide approach to raising public awareness of global and local biodiversity loss. He persuaded a loose association of local environmental organisations to work in a partnership, entitled Big Nature – a synonym for biodiversity, to successfully produce a year-long series of biodiversity related events.

Dan has also introduced an ecological engineering approach to habitat restoration for chalk grassland butterflies, giving the public access to nature on their doorsteps within the urban environment. Initial sites of habitat creation greatly increased floral diversity, for example, the Liz Williams Butterfly Haven, went from amenity/municipal grassland with 10 wildflower species to a surrogate habitat with over 100 species, an order of magnitude increase. To date 30 species of butterfly have been recorded on this site (81% of the city’s butterfly fauna). Dan also encouraged Brighton & Hove parks department to create over 30 such sites and is an advisor on the Brilliant Butterflies project (£1M budget) run by the Natural History Museum, Butterfly Conservation & London Wildlife Trust.

Dan is Executive Trustee of the charitable company Big Nature, which aims to revitalise the relationship between people and their local wildlife by creating natural habitats within the UNESCO designated Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere reserve (now known as The Living Coast). Over the last 3 years, Dan advocated a year-long biodiversity celebration within The Living Coast to coincide with the end of the International Decade of Biodiversity in 2020. This project Nature 2020 was launched on the 31st January 2020. Dan also makes video’s on biodiversity related issues whcih you can see over on his YouTube channel.

Since 2014, Dan has been working on a Citizen’s Science project in the Greek island of Corfu to encourage the public to become more interested in butterflies and on the 1st January 2021 launched the five-year Corfu Butterfly Survey, which aims to produce the first comprehensive atlas of Corfiot butterflies (see corfubutterflyconservation.org).