Words by Yashika Nand
More than 100 young conservationists and scientists presented their research on areas of spatial planning and prioritization, habitat and species protection, culture and conservation, and the science of effective decision-making for conservation. Participants were mainly graduate students representing their academic institutions and/or organizations. I was amongst the few students from the University of the South Pacific (USP) who got the opportunity to broaden our understanding on current issues, efforts and challenges of global conservation. We got to share our ideas and work to address conservation challenges in Fiji and the wider Pacific region.
The SCCS conference was a great opportunity to connect with young conservationists around the global as well as the larger Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) family. During the conference, I met colleagues from Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, China, and India. I was really impressed with the diversity of our work as an organization on different aspects of conservation and the enthusiasm young WCS scientists and managers have for conservation.
For example, I learned about the customary use of vulturine parrots and its implications for conservation in the highlands of Papua New Guinea – which incidentally won a special topics award. Our multiple disciplinary approaches link us to conservation in marine and terrestrial environments, endangered species in the wild and traded species, science and culture. The work presented at this conference was just a glimpse of what WCS’ global vision for conservation in future.
As a young conservationist, this conference made me realise the importance of networking and information sharing. Although we focus on different approaches and areas, sharing ideas leads to innovation and this is what strengthens the pillars of our conservation efforts. Different areas of research connect in a unique way in nature – we are more successful when we combine our efforts. As the conference closes, I look forward to the next five days of strengthening my research skills. I will be attending a series of workshop on varies topics from species distribution model, statistics analysis, spatial conservation planning, writing grant proposals, to improving conservation with social science and decision science tools for conservation. Lots to learn and bring home to Fiji!