The rare and the everyday in nature conservation

Research output: Contribution to conferenceUnpublished paper


Nature conservation is ostensibly concerned with rarity. Species and habitats that are deemed to be rare, and thus threatened, are, at first glance, the focus of conservationists’ activities. This paper explores the ways in which rarity is assessed and used within conservation and highlights the complexities of this process. It examines the ambiguities of rarity and considers its relation to ‘the everyday’, that is to the very situated and regular experiences of nature that people enjoy in their day-to-day lives. Conservation, for example, is concerned with making the rare more everyday, and occasionally with making the everyday rarer. It also draws on narratives of the loss of everyday experiences of nature, for example the clarion call of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. But conservation also needs rarity to justify itself and its actions. This paper thus attempts to examine the motivations of conservation and what it actually is that is being ‘conserved’ through an examination of the tensions between rarity and the everyday. It also speculates on the possibilities for a more ‘everyday conservation’ focused on the maintenance of caring relations between people and nature, rather than on the continual production of threats to an objectified and quantified nature. Examples are drawn primarily from Britain but also from Brazil and New Zealand.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2009
Event2nd European Congress of Conservation Biology - Prague, Czech Republic
Duration: 1 Sept 20095 Sept 2009


Conference2nd European Congress of Conservation Biology
Country/TerritoryCzech Republic


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