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Conservation as Art and a Replicable Process (part 1)

We have always said that conservation is an art, and cannot be replicated across regions, cultures, habitats, species, organizations, or specific personalities. Each contributes to the creative pursuit that is conservation. What works in one situation, might not work in another, or even in the same project in a different year, as many of the areas are volatile with increasing pressure from outside influences that seek to extract wildlife, ravage habitats, and displace indigenous cultures. Also, what does “work” mean? In the short run, what one year might look like failure, may turn out over the years to be an amazing contribution to people and parrots in surprising locations. For this reason, we cannot avow that One Earth Conservation has a replicable model, but instead a replicable process, that appears to generally produce ever increasing benefits for the teams with which we work. This process is heavily dependent on compassion, empathy, and relationships, with a commitment to stay engaged with all actors in the conservation drama for decades at a stretch.

We do mean decades, and we do mean “generally produce,” for there are no guarantees to outcomes in conservation. The forward progress can be difficult to detect, and often there are temporary upsets that cause great anxiety, because we fear the bad news could be permanent. For instance, we experienced a setback with our projects in Nicaragua because of the current political situation there. One of our partner organizations had to fold and in another, the leader was experiencing governmental persecution. Furthermore, we have noticed increasing pressure from buyers who want to buy parrots eggs throughout the region, and we have our highest rate of poaching in Honduras in three years due to the international trade in macaw eggs.

Still, we have seen how over time teams increase their commitment, their efficacy, their funding, and the territory over which they can exert positive influence. Time and time again, what began as a short trip by One Earth Conservation to one area to investigate parrot populations and possible partners, has been transformed into a major conservation effort for parrots by the communities over which the birds used to fly more numerously.

These teams reflect One Earth’s overall strategy – to have confidence in community-based efforts to fulfill the mission to save parrots while, year by year, One Earth partners with more communities and exerts more and more influence in the world of conservation. Let us repeat, there are no guaranteed outcomes. Our funders could withdraw their generous donations and our grants could run out. Projects and objectives might lay fallow for a while as others overwhelm us with the exuberance of a highly awaited spring. So, we have to be in it for the long run, throwing out seeds to see what might sprout and grow.

We aren’t the only ones planting for the future. Each of our funders, each of our donors, each of our team members, and each of our volunteers is a kernel of possibility. Each individual comes to One Earth like a seed of hope, casting their fate upon the fertile ground of our processes, so that together we grow into the biodiversity we and other beings crave. We together become flocks of seed dispersers, just like the parrots, upon which the earth depends to maintain biodiversity.

If you have been part of our growth, your contribution is treasured. If you would like to cast your hope and fate with us, you are warmly welcomed. The parrots and people of the world need us to be with one another for the long term, and we thank you for this commitment.

If you'd like to know more about our Replicable Process, please review our 2018 Annual Report and read next week's blog.

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