Nobody enjoys failure, particularly scientists. The competition for funding is fierce and the importance of reputation paramount. Conservation scientists also bear the added burden of knowing that although successes may directly contribute toward stemming the ongoing environmental crisis, failures probably mean fewer resources and even more significantly, less time available for nature conservation. Although failure is usually considered best avoided, Redford and Taber's (2000) insightful paper highlights the vital importance of acknowledging and sharing failures for learning to “do” effective conservation. They call upon conservation organizations to willingly admit and document failures so as to promote the “safe‐fail” culture essential for establishing adaptive resource management systems. Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, no conservation organizations have heeded their call. Reading Redford and Taber's (2000) editorial proved a seminal moment in my evolution as a conservation professional. I felt challenged and compelled to heed their call for “writing the wrongs;” my own experience concurred with their wisdom. So, I offer an account of failure in conservation, along with a few hard‐won lessons, in the hope this small contribution triggers the snowballing of a safe‐fail culture within the conservation community. Learning to do conservation better depends on it. Between
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Aug 1, 2006
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