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Abstract

We are failing to protect the biosphere. Novel views of conservation, preservation, and sustainability are surfacing in the wake of consensus about our failures to prevent extinction or slow climate change. We argue that the interests and well-being of non-humans, youth, and future generations of both human and non-human beings (futurity) have too long been ignored in consensus-based, anthropocentric conservation. Consensus-based stakeholder-driven processes disadvantage those absent or without a voice and allow current adult humans and narrow, exploitative interests to dominate decisions about the use of nature over its preservation for futurity of all life. We propose that authentically non-anthropocentric worldviews that incorporate multispecies justice are needed for a legitimate, deliberative, and truly democratic process of adjudication between competing interests in balancing the preservation and use of nature. Legitimate arenas for such adjudication would be courts that can defend intergenerational equity, which is envisioned by many nations' constitutions, and can consider current and future generations of non-human life. We urge practitioners and scholars to disavow implicit anthropocentric value judgments in their work – or make these transparent and explicit – and embrace a more comprehensive worldview that grants future life on earth fair representation in humanity's decisions and actions today.

Author Biography

Adrian Treves, Professor of Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison and founder of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab, is an independent researcher and advocate for future generations, for science, and for the sovereign authority of the public. His research is on ecology, law, and human dimensions of ecosystems in which crop and livestock ownership overlaps with the habitat of large carnivores from coyotes up to grizzly bears. Website

Francisco J. Santiago-Ávila’s research is on the integration and application of environmental and animal ethics to coexistence with wildlife and the evaluation of the effectiveness of policies and interventions to prevent conflicts with large carnivores. His main objective is to embed in the conservation and wildlife fields the much-needed acknowledgement of moral standing for individual non-human animals. Website

William S. Lynn is research scientist in the George Perkins Marsh Institute at Clark University, and Political Animals editor for the journal Society & Animals. His work is on the ethics and politics of sustainability with an emphasis on animals and alternative paradigms of conservation (e.g., compassionate conservation, rewilding, social nature). Website

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Article Thread

Treves, Adrian; Santiago-Ávila, Francisco J.; and Lynn, William S. (2019) Just preservation. Animal Sentience 27(1)

Washington, Haydn (2019) Justice for nature. Animal Sentience 27(2)