Biodiversity conservation cannot afford COVID-19 communication bungles

As COVID-19 continues to dominate our lives and media headlines, maintaining public engagement with biodiversity conservation can be a communication challenge.

This media context can make it tempting for conservation professionals like us to draw links or parallels between the pandemic and the biodiversity crisis, with the intention to make stories about biodiversity more relevant and topical.

However, without a clear strategy and understanding of the media landscape, drawing narrative connections between COVID-19 and nature risks potentially reinforcing or reintroducing problematic message frames and narratives.

Tweet from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), highlighting findings of their Workshop Report on Biodiversity and Pandemics. The focus on the virus numbers statistic frames nature as the problem, rather than the human activities responsible.

In our recently published paper in Trends in Ecology & Evolution, we discuss these risks around how we communicate about nature and COVID-19, and outline how by taking a strategic communications approach we set ourselves up for success in our conservation messaging.

Specifically we suggest conservation professionals:

  • Avoid framing nature as the problem
  • Where appropriate, frame nature itself as the solution
  • Avoid narratives that reinforce unhelpful and outdated ideas about the relationship between humans and nature e.g. nature as a threat or something to be ‘tamed’
  • Ensure messages promote high self-efficacy and action, not apathy

Check out the paper for more information! You can access the full paper here until 17 September 2021.

Gregg, EA., Kusmanoff, AM., Garrard, G.E., Kidd, LR., Bekessy, SA., (2021) Biodiversity conservation cannot afford COVID-19 communication bungles, Trends in Ecology & Evolutionhttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2021.07.003 (preprint: Gregg_et_al_preprint_070721)

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