COMMUNICATION: THE MISSING LINK IN CONSERVATION
Sriyanie Mithapala*, Alejandro Grajal** and U K G Padmalal***
*Colombo; **Wildlife Conservation Society, New York;
***Open University, Nugegoda
Following global trends, modern conservation in Sri Lanka is veering away
from policing and preservation, and is encouraging sustainable use and
emphasizing public awareness and participation.
Nonetheless, on-the-ground progress in conservation has not been adequate.
This slow progress can be attributed to many factors including financial
constraints, lack of motivation within and lack of coordination between
agencies. It is proposed that one of the most fundamental reasons for
the dragging pace of conservation is the lack of communication between
biologists (the producers of information) on the one hand and the users
of biological resources and decision makers (the receivers of the information)
on the other. The core of the problem is that scientists are trained to
stimulate the intellect and to formulate testable hypotheses, use statistical
analyses and objectively report results. Scientists are not trained to
evoke emotion, to dramatize, to surprise or to entice the public with
their results. Above all, they are not trained to provoke a response in
the form of action.
The goal in this paper is to open the eyes and minds of conservation biologists
to effective communication and to emphasize the need, in effect, to advertise
and market these messages to elicit a response from the public. Communication
is defined in terms of marketing and advertising as a process by which
a producer sends a message to a receiver who responds to that message,
i.e. there is feedback to the producer. It is a process of exchange. There
are six main steps in an effective communication strategy: 1) Identification
of the main problem and formulation of the goal; 2) Definition of measurable
objectives; 3) Research on facts; 4) Identification of target groups (market
segmentation); 5) Development of a communication strategy (formation of
marketing and advertising plans); 6) Evaluation of goal(s).
This paper merely introduces the basic concepts and tools of a communication
strategy. That effective conservation can only be achieved through effective
communication is reiterated. Once this link is made and enriched, conservation
biology will be a truly multidisciplinary science.
Department of Forestry and Environmental Science,
of Sri Jayewardenepura,Sri Lanka. 1999. All rights reserved.