One of the key responses to tackling the loss of species worldwide is through the development of skills and human capacity. We believe that this comes through the development of skills within our organisation, the training of young conservationists from around the world and the development of capacity within local communities and institutions to manage natural resources sustainably.
We firmly believe that to maintain Durrell’s ability to deliver effective conservation projects that save species from extinction, we must continuously develop the skills of our staff both in Jersey and around the world. The range of technologies and skills applied to conservation problems expands all the time and so we must also be able to pace with these developments and use them most effectively.
Over the years Durrell has also pioneered many approaches to conservation such as captive rearing techniques that are then applied to the reintroduction of populations back to the wild. At the wildlife park in Jersey our staff focus on the husbandry and study of priority taxonomic groups and then develop approaches that can be integrated with field conservation efforts.
The Durrell Conservation Academy has over 25 years of experience as a provider of training in endangered species recovery techniques. It has built capacity for endangered species recovery in over 135 countries worldwide. However, more must be done to identify and train individuals, teams and institutions with the capacity to lead species recovery programmes.
We believe that the skills and experience exists to prevent further species extinction, but more help is needed to provide the necessary opportunities for these qualities to be captured, transmitted and applied to conservation projects worldwide.
Durrell has developed a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary suite of applied courses, run on-site in Jersey and in countries/regions of greatest need. These courses provide training for more than 180 conservation practitioners (primarily from developing countries with high biodiversity value) and over 250 graduate students per year. We will also be developing an internship programme enable selected individuals with leadership and entrepreneurial qualities to gain the necessary hands-on experience in the field.
Where Durrell works in regions that have local communities which are directly reliant on natural resources for their survival, there is a complex relationship between the welbeing of those communities, their impacts on their surrounding environment and the management responses needed to both protect the environment and support local communities.
For many years community conservation has been seen as a way of engaging with communities in the sustainable management of species and habitats to ensure they benefit from this approach. More recently our understanding of the way in which ecosystems deliver services such as soil fertility, drinking water and food and fibre, to human communities and the role biodiversity plays in underpinning these services has developed and deepened greatly – further highlighting the importance of placing communities at the heart of conservation responses.
Our focus on community conservation is primarily in our Madagascar & Comoros field region. Over the last twenty years, Durrell has developed a specific approach to community conservation, with the principles of respecting local cultures and traditional social structures, celebrating local biodiversity, catalysing group decision-making, seeking active participation in locally-led initiatives (rather than the other way around) and utilising positive incentive structures for conservation or resource management achievements. This has led to the formation of over 170 local associations leading environmental management and currently Durrell is supporting the creation of three community co-managed protected areas in Madagascar.