The new conservation debate: The view from practical ethics

Thaddeus Miller, Ben Minteer, Leon C. Malan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations


In this paper we provide an analysis of the "new conservation debate," a still-evolving dispute in which conservation scientists and advocates defending a strong protected-areas approach (" nature protectionists" ) have become pitted against more development-oriented conservationists (" social conservationists" ) intent on reforming the dominant protected areas model to embrace sustainable use and poverty alleviation efforts. We focus in particular on identifying and clarifying the divergent normative and descriptive claims made by the two camps in the debate, an activity that we suggest will improve communication and understanding among conservationists. We suggest that more explicit discussion of the value and ethical dimensions of this debate is needed, and describe efforts to reduce value conflict and harmonize ethical positions. We conclude with a discussion of emerging planning and policy models that may facilitate a convergence of values in the new conservation debate on a common policy of eco-social sustainability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)948-957
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Conservation
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2011


  • Ecological ethics
  • Nature protectionists
  • Protected areas
  • Social conservationists
  • Sustainable use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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