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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

The need for ecocentrism in biodiversity conservation

Taylor, Bron; Chapron, Guillaume; Kopnina, Helen; Orlikowska, Ewa; Gray, Joe; Piccolo, John J.


Over the past 5 decades, scientists have been documenting negative anthropogenic environmental change, expressing increasing alarm, and urging dramatic socioecological transformation in response. A host of international meetings have been held, but the erosion of biological diversity continues to accelerate. Why, then, has no effective political action been taken? We contend that part of the answer may lie in the anthropocentric ethical premises and moral rhetoric typically deployed in the cause of conservation. We further argue that it is essential to advance moral arguments for biodiversity conservation that are not just based on perceived human interests but on ecocentric values, namely, convictions that species and ecosystems have value and interests that should be respected regardless of whether they serve human needs and aspirations. A broader array of moral rationales for biodiversity conservation, we conclude, would be more likely to lead to effective plans, adopted and enforced by governments, designed to conserve biological diversity. A good place to start in this regard would be to explicitly incorporate ecocentric values into the recommendations that will be made at the conclusion of the 15th meeting of the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, scheduled to be held in October 2020.


anthropocentrism; biophilia; Convention on Biological Diversity; ethics; IPBES; justice; nature; needs half; rights of nature; worldviews

Published in

Conservation Biology
2020, Volume: 34, number: 5, pages: 1089-1096
Publisher: WILEY

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    • Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG15 Life on land

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