marbio: How to conserve?

Jim Culter JCULTER at
Wed Nov 1 14:37:42 EST 1995

Dear Lloyd, 

I am sure your questions will generate many responses (and requests  
for funding).  I will offer some ideas based on our experience both  
in the U.S and overseas.  Scientists are often accused of always  
insisting on "more studies" without offering "answers" to socially  
caused environmental problems.  In defense, many of these problems  
are "new" and require new information. 

At MML we are inundated with questions from the public, wanting to  
know the causes and cures for complex problems.  Sometimes we have  
answers based on many years of data, but for many questions we do not  
have simple answers.  New problems demand new data.  In terms of  
scientific data and enviromental studies the U.S. is far ahead of Latin 
America (this is not a criticism of science in these areas, just a 
comment on the "quantity" and intensity of research). 

There is a popular notion within the conservative political elements  
of the U.S. that we have had enough environmental science, enough  
studies and that conservation is counter to economic development.   
Without arguing this point I will say this is simply not true. 

Much of the financial aid to Latin America is in the form of  
management and planning projects.  My question is; What are they  
planning to manage, and how, if the information describing the type,  
quantity and function of the resources is deficient or totally  
lacking.  Environmental science has largely been reactive, with  
systems being studied only after problems are perceived.  This  
palces a burden on the scientist to somehow determine causes and  
levels of degradarion without any reliable data on the condition in  
"the good ole days". 

The point of this is that to have a working conservation program  
today we need to know how things were working yesterday.  The  
stabilization of Central American politics is resulting in an  
increase exploitation of the coastal resources, at a rate that far  
exceeds development of scientific knowledge. 

My encouragement is for the combination of developing management  
strategies based on large quantities of sound science and data  
gathering.  Training of indigenous people is important and they must  
also be provided with the resources to continue gathering  
information after the training is completed. 

Good luck with your projects,   

Jim Culter                         jculter at 
Mote Marine Laboratory             voice (813) 388-4441 
1600 Thompson Parkway              fax   (813) 388-4312 
Sarasota, FL  34236 

MML is a private non-profit marine/estuarine research and 
education laboratory.  All opinions herein are my own  
(not MML policy) unless noted as otherwise. 
Invertebrates rule! 
On Wed, 1 Nov 1995, Lloyd Timberlake wrote: 

> Greetings,    
> I have a problem which I think will be of interest to most 
> of you, no  matter what your speciality.    
> I am working with a new foundation which supports leadership for  
> sustainable development in Latin America. We are already funding  
> projects dealing with business, grassroots and institutional leadership.  
> We would like to develop a strategy to support leadership for nature  
> conservation. Since we "inherited" a small marine ecosystem  conservation 
> project in the western Caribbean (keys and coral), we are  looking at the 
> possibility of doing more work in marine conservation.    
> My question is: Given the host of assaults today on shallow-water,  
> tropical marine ecosystems - varying types of pollution, over-fishing,  
> global warming, etc. - how does a small foundation with considerable  
> resources work most cost-effectively? Does one establish more small 
> conservation zones? Does one simply donate to a big  international green 
> NGO? Does one do policy work with Latin  American governments? Is there 
> key research which needs funding  which is not getting funding? (I am 
> afraid of getting thousands of  research proposals from this group.) 
> I have spoken to a number of appropriate organisations, and it is  
> surprising how little consensus there is on how best to DO marine  
> conservation. The usual response is a rather unconvincing "Fund us."  
> Perhaps by throwing the question out to such a group, I can get  beyond 
> that.   
>   Thanks in advance for your interest.  
>   Lloyd Timberlake,  
> Visiting Fellow Centre for Environmental Technology, Imperial College  
> 48 Prince's Gardens, London, SW7 2PE, UK 
> Phone:+44 171 594-9286, Fax:+44 171 581-0245   
> e-mail: lloyd at 

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