A conservationist is someone who chooses to spend their career protecting wildlife or plants across the world. Sounds very worthwhile doesn’t it? It’s an adventurous, varied and rewarding career, as well as being crucial to preserving our planet.
But we know that even the most enterprising, committed and knowledgeable conservationists can fall at the first hurdle unless talent is carefully nurtured during crucial early stages of their career. This is where we come in.
The Conservation Leadership Programme provides funding, training, mentorship and a network of 3,000 fantastic conservationists.
Over the years, we have had the privilege of interviewing many of these visionary people. They are now leaders in their field. Here, we would like to share their words of wisdom with you.
“Be persistent. Especially regarding fundraising. It can be very frustrating to have more proposals rejected than accepted but, hey…that’s just the nature of fundraising. Make sure to ask for feedback on rejected proposals whenever possible. Improve your pitch and send it again.”
“Have a good reason to stay in the fight. What I’m doing is very sincere, it’s what I want to do, and I know why I’m doing it. I love nature, but I know it’s not in a good condition and needs my help. Think about it: if you had a friend, someone you really love, who is on the brink of death and with your help that situation could change, you would go out of your way to help even if it requires some sacrifices”.
“Take your time to know your study object, the places you will work, and most of all: the people that live there and who should take over from you to continue your work”.
ABOUT ERICA’S WORK:
4. Dr NELLY ISIGI KADAGI, KENYA
“Believe in yourself and do it, and sometimes it may take a long time to see the results. But keep an open mind and stay hungry for knowledge”.
5. KULBHUSHANSINGH SURYAWANSH, INDIA
“I believe conservation is about people. Many of us are motivated by the wild landscapes and the amazing species that live there. But as a conservationist, we will have to spend a lot of time and energy with the people who share these areas with wildlife. These people alone can ensure the future of these places and species”.
6. RENATA FERRARI LEGORRETA, MEXICO
“Optimism is very important. Don’t stop because someone says it is impossible. Instead, think hard about the main hurdles you will need to overcome and how you will achieve your goals. If the challenge is too big, team up with someone and conquer that mountain together. Always be more inclusive than exclusive and never, never give up. Even when you think your work may not make a real difference, remember that there is nothing worse than standing by when you could be doing something to make things better”.
7. JULIE HANTA RAZAFIMANAHAKA, MADAGASCAR
“Doing research is the easy part of conservation; the most challenging and exciting thing is linking the findings with the conservation actions, and this will always include people”
“Overcoming threats to species can seem intimidating so just do the best you can to protect our precious nature. Begin with something small, and it will create a big impact for the future conservation of wildlife and wild places. Conservation is not the responsibility of an individual or an institution alone. The more people and institutions involved in conservation efforts, the greater the impact will be”.
“Don’t be put off by other people’s comments; do things that you are passionate about. Don’t be too worried if the focus of your work is not a popular choice. Keep learning and don’t be too shy to contact people who are already well known in your chosen field and ask them for guidance”.
10. CYNTHIA LAYUSA, PHILIPPINES
‘Take risks! It will be difficult, but help in various forms will arrive when you least expect it!’
11. HAZELL THOMPSON, SIERRA LEONE
“You have the opportunity to make a significant difference not only to the environment, but also to people’s lives. One of the greatest joys of my job is being able to help national programmes and organisations – and young people – to become stronger”.
‘Have conviction and follow it till the end. Don’t keep switching from one thing to the other just to please someone. It is important to choose a topic and be convinced about it.’
13. PATRICIA DAVIS, MADAGASCAR
“Listen to local people’s knowledge, especially those out in the field every day such as fishers; they often make very accurate observations and are the first to notice changes. They will also be the ones at the forefront of any conservation actions you implement and certainly their understanding and agreement will be fundamental to the project’s success”
“Keep a crystal clear focus on the distinction between the ends and the means of biodiversity conservation. Of all the impacts that humanity has on the planet, most are reversible: we can clean up pollution, restore habitats, even, in theory, reverse climate change. But once a species is extinct, we can never bring it back. Conservationists have a fascinating toolbox to help tackle this crisis: protected areas, community conservation, payments for ecosystem services, REDD, you name it. But these are steps in the path, not ends in themselves so my advice is simply to keep that ultimate goal of preventing extinctions in your sights, through thick and thin”.
ABOUT TOM’S WORK:
“When you’re young, you have a lot of time and energy, so it’s really important to seize this opportunity to get involved in many different things. It will help you find your path in life. You never know what might happen! Be curious, find out what you like and what you don’t like, and go from there”.
- Read more about CLP’s alumni: incredible conservationists in their field, and learn about our conservation award funding if you would like to be a part of future training and support.
- Interested in supporting the Conservation Leadership Programme? We would love to hear from you.
Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) is a partnership of three of the world’s leading conservation organisations – BirdLife International, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
For over 38 years, CLP has directed project funding, training, mentorship and other career-building opportunities to early-career conservationists from developing countries who are tackling key conservation challenges. Our alumni comprise a network of approximately 3,100 conservation practitioners from over 100 countries, many of whom have led vital steps forward in conservation after gaining CLP support. CLP is grateful to our partnership organisations and donors for continuing to support our work and the conservation actions of our alumni.