Wildlife values in international conservation policy
The conservation of wildlife is an important concern for many political actors. Wildlife is valued in a number of different ways and the development, priorities and outcomes of conservation policy can be better understood with recognition of these distinct ‘wildlife’ values held by the varied political actors involved in the policy process. This thesis describes these wildlife values and explores their impact on conservation policy through a comparison of six global conservation agreements; the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, Antarctic Treaty system, Ramsar wetlands convention, Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species, and the Convention on Biological Diversity. It is argued that the policy-arenas within which these agreements developed have features a broad variety of wildlife values, yet that the debate has, in fact, been dominated by just a few. The policy-arena has also featured a broad range of political actors placing distinct values on wildlife. States are characterised as reactive primarily to the economic and political value of wildlife and its conservation. Non-governmental organisations broaden the spectrum of values to include, in particular, ecological and animal-welfare values. The centrality of natural scientists to conservation policy acts to promote the importance of wildlife’s educational value. Business and industrial actors, along with individuals, are also considered to have a significant impact upon the valuation of wildlife. It is argued that the distribution of wildlife values expressed and acted upon in international conservation policy reflects political power or influence. It is further argued that the dominance of economic priorities, with an attendant need to express the value of wildlife economically, tends actually to greatly under-value wildlife. Thus the effectiveness of state-centric wildlife conservation is questioned.