Conserving Biodiversity in the Real World: Professional
Practice Using a Policy Orientation
Tim W. Clark*, Peter Schuyler, Tim Donnay, Peyton Curlee, Timothy Sullivan,
Margaret Cymerys, Lili Sheeline, Richard P. Reading, Richard L. Wallace, Ted
Kennedy, Jr., Arnald Marcer-Batlle, and Yance De Fretes
Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, 205 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511
Conservation biologists often take the view that their role is simply to provide biological information
to policy makers and resource managers, not to engage in the overall conservation process
about endangered species conservation. Considering the many challenges to biodiversity conservation,
stemming from social, political, and economic issues, we argue that professionals could
better aid species recovery if they broadened their role and activities, as well as knowledge and
skill, beyond conservation biology. A more effective professional approach to endangered species
conservation might be to teach conservation biologists a "policy orientation" to their important
work. A policy orientation encourages its holder to best integrate the biological and social sciences
to help managers, leaders, and the public make sound choices, and to solve problems effectively. In
order to apply this orientation, biologists must first understand the conservation (policy) process.
One practical model of this process describes six phases or activities through which all policies and
programs pass (i.e. initiation, estimation, selection, implementation, evaluation, and termination).
Therefore, we recommend that university conservation biology programs, particularly at the graduate
level, teach policy orientation and that professionals actively make an effort to learn and apply
a policy orientation. Significantly improved endangered species conservation can be expected from
using this innovation.