Student Review: Conservation Science: Balancing the Needs of People and Nature

February 24, 2011

Authors: Peter Kareiva and Michelle Marvier

Edition: First

Publisher: Roberts & Company

Pages: 576

Price: £50.00

ISBN 9781936221066

The subtitle of this work neatly establishes the emphasis of its approach to conservation science. With an expanding population competing with nature for dwindling world resources, there is probably no part of this planet left untouched by human influence. Any successful conservation effort must take this into account and the sustainable future of the environment must include humanity at every turn.

Here, Peter Kareiva and Michelle Marvier have drawn on their extensive experience, both of first-hand conservation work and as educators, to produce a comprehensive and accessible textbook ideally suited to anyone involved in the field. Balancing the needs of people and nature may well be the most significant challenge that the human race will face and solutions are neither easy nor obvious. The authors are never afraid to point this out: difficulties and historic failures are examined in detail and readers are encouraged to think for themselves at every point.

The book is split into four sections on general conservation principles, policy and protection, underlying science and, finally, some specific conservation challenges relating to human impacts. These broad areas are divided into 19 chapters, spread over more than 540 pages, giving an exhaustive overview of modern conservation science as it stands today.

The content of each chapter is followed by a "Consider this" section, which gives some additional food for thought, perhaps challenging received wisdom or suggesting some alternative approach, which could be particularly useful for second- or third-year undergraduates. Each chapter finishes with a list of discussion questions, along with suggested group projects to further develop the chapter's subject, ideas that educators may find helpful when preparing coursework.

It is difficult to criticise this book. It covers quite comprehensively the whole area of conservation science for the 21st century, from mathematical principles to government policy, and reviews historical impacts and future trends. Its level is appropriate to its target audience of upper-level undergraduates. It might be accused, perhaps, of being a little US-centric in its examples, particularly when considering political issues, but given that we are largely concerned with the underlying principles, this shouldn't be too much of a concern. So, it is a highly recommended text for environmental students. No great prior knowledge is necessary to access this book, and readers are led from basic principles to cutting-edge thinking with full encouragement to contribute their own thoughts to this exciting field.

Who is it for? Undergraduates in conservation or environmental science.

Presentation: Generic textbook.

Would you recommend it? Yes, very highly.

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