What is a Conservation Diplomat?

conservation diplomatA conservation diplomat is a senior veterinarian who travels the globe advocating for wildlife and environmental protection. They may be itinerant representatives or they may be assigned to a specific area or country.

What is Conservation Diplomacy?

Conservation diplomacy is a relatively new discipline that combines environmentalism with political activism. Across the globe, wildlife populations and natural environments are being exploited and destroyed at an alarming rate. This ranges from illegal logging and slash burning in the Amazon jungles to illegal poaching of elephants for ivory. Conservation diplomacy uses political advocacy, public sentiment and community outreach programs to raise awareness about local and national conservation issues. The goal is to use economic incentives scientific-based evidence to protect wildlife and nature. This is primarily accomplished through protective legislation campaigns that raise awareness, set up enforcement programs and set appropriate regulations.

Why Conservation Diplomacy Matters

According to Nature magazine, there are serious conservation problems occurring around the world, involving water, the oceans, land cities and climate change. For example, third-world countries with lax environmental laws and corrupt local governments allow rampant water system pollution from industrial manufacturers. Similar to this, countries around the world also ignore proper regulation controls for protecting the environment as cities grow and populations expand. It is very difficult to balance conservation, sustainability and fast economic growth. Many countries openly dump garbage and toxic waste into the ocean in international waters. Climate change is gradually affecting global weather patterns. Clearly, conservation diplomats are needed to help countries find the right balance between commercial expansion and sustainable policies and practices.

What are the Job Requirements?

Senior conservation diplomats will work with foreign governments and conservation societies, such as the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Global Conservation Fund (GCF) and the U.N’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC). They will spend their time engaged in political activities, such as exclusive tours, meetings and interviews. However, entry-level conservation diplomats will be experienced scientists who do a lot of international traveling. They will spend part of their time working in a foreign office and part of their time in the field. Therefore, they will work in adverse weather with unpredictable schedules and potentially resistant people. They will most likely have five to 10 years of specialized work experience, such as forestry, primate medicine or the environmental sciences. They will also most likely have a specialized master’s or doctoral degree.

What are the Education Requirements?

Conservation diplomacy is a new field that is still being formulated and established through pioneering preservationists. Therefore, there are no standard degree requirements. Instead, there is a broad array of potential degree backgrounds. First, conservation scientists have degrees in ecology, forestry, zoology and the environmental sciences, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They may work as a range manager to protect natural resources, a conservation manager to supervise wildlife habitats or a soil and water conservationist. They may also work for a state or federal agency, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Additionally, there are zoologists and wildlife biologists who study specific wildlife populations. Some of these conservation professionals go on to obtain a masters or doctoral degree and work as university researchers. Finally, there are environmental scientists who have specialized training in natural science fields such as biology or geology. They work as industrial ecologists, climate change analysts and environmental health specialists.

Related Resource: Wildlife Education Careers

Conservation diplomacy is quickly becoming one of the most important methods of controlling and preventing the exploitation of natural resources and wildlife populations. Conservation diplomats are at the forefront of this exciting new field.