Chapter 1: Human values and the conservation of wild species: an overview
Human valuation of other species has major implications for the conservation of biodiversity. This is because this valuation influences the intentions and actions of humans to conserve other species and their failure to do so. In the modern era, human activities and behaviours are the prime determinant of the extinction of other species, whereas in the past, their mass extinctions have been caused by natural environmental calamities. Therefore, the investigation of human values and behaviours in relation to the conservation of biological resources is central to the study of contemporary biodiversity loss. This book has been written to advance this investigation. Nevertheless, such a study is challenging because the connections between human values and biodiversity conservation are complex. For example, different individuals frequently hold conflicting values; these values are not always stable (they can vary with the passage of time) and they may be based on faulty or limited knowledge. In fact, limited knowledge is a serious problem given the existence of bounded rationality. Furthermore, for several reasons, held values may not be translated into corresponding conservation behaviours. For example, institutional failures of various kinds may occur.