The idea is as simple as it is powerful: human security = environmental security.
I got involved in conservation projects on my first trip to South Africa in 1986 while I was working as a physician in a rural hospital along the Mozambique border. This was the first of my 26 trips to the African continent. From the very first time I joined an anti-poaching patrol, or worked on research projects in the bush, I saw the immense value that innovative conservation efforts could have on protecting critical habitats and endangered species. The beauty of the conservation programs I joined in sub-Saharan Africa was that they protected wild spaces by ensuring the people living around these habitats benefited directly from them. Eco- and ethno-tourism opportunities, as well as other programs, created jobs and resources that were used to pay for health care, education, and basic infrastructure for the people. I also saw that the failure to do this led to environmental degradation that seriously affected the health of people.
One of the reasons I became a Member of Parliament (I have served in Canada’s House of Commons since 1993) was to link environmental protection and conservation practices with improvements in human health and security. Unfortunately, this linkage rarely guides government’s international development and environmental practices.
We cannot waste any time. Our planet is now experiencing one of the most extensive and rapid periods of mass extinctions in its history. The culprit is primarily human activity, which is causing species to go extinct approximately 1,000 times faster than expected. Fully a quarter of all mammal species are on the verge of extinction, 25 per cent of the world’s plant species are under threat, and more than 80 per cent of the world’s fisheries are fully- or over-exploited. Stopping this massive loss of biodiversity will require implementing the most innovative solutions we can find in conservation and environmental sciences from around the world.
Two years ago I founded Canada’s first All-Party International Conservation Caucus in Parliament, which I chair. This year I set up the International Conservation Forum (www.icforum.info) to enable environmental experts, conservationists, and the general public to share ideas on how we can address these challenges. The site has a place to publish articles, blog, innovate, and above all else to share solutions and work together to implement them. Anyone can share their ideas on www.icforum.info.
Please pass this site on to your contacts. It site is a vehicle for you to use and is only as good as how it is used. In the end, we only have one home, Earth. It is up to each of us to save it.
Together, we can make a difference.
Dr. Keith Martin, M.D.
Member of Parliament
- Tags: International Conservation Forum, Keith Martin, Conservation, Wildlife protection, Endangered, Tigers, Rhinos, poaching