Distinguished leaders promote wildlife partnerships

By Dana Kobilinsky

A panel of speakers answer questions from the audience regarding partnerships.

The threats to natural resources and the need for smarter resource conservation in the face of those threats have continued to grow for many decades, outstripping the capacity in any single organization to act effectively on behalf of resource conservation, according to speakers at TWS’ 23rd Annual Conference, which is being held in Raleigh, N.C. this week. This situation has led to a broad recognition that partnerships are the best, and often the only, way to effectively pursue today natural resource conservation needs.

TWS President Gary Potts convened the Sunday afternoon symposium, “Partnerships Across the Spectrum of Wildlife Governance,” featuring 10 distinguished leaders from state and federal wildlife agencies, NGOs, academia, and professional societies to identify strategies that will ensure the future of wildlife. Potts has promoted the theme of partnerships during his presidency.

Potts says wildlife organizations across North America have already established formal partnerships. The Wildlife Society, for example, currently has 30 partners including organizations such as Wildlife Services, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, the U.S. Forest Service, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Commission and many more. The session, which attracted around nearly 100 participants, highlighted some of the benefits and successes of those efforts.

Nick Wiley, the executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, spoke about how networking plays an important role in partnerships. He added that while some wildlife biologists might get the reputation of being introverted, they still know the importance of getting together and networking at conferences such as this one. Partners in all different sectors such as the private sector, state and federal agencies, non-NGOs and others are all important to have in this field, he says.

Becky Humphries, the chief executive officer of the National Turkey Federation discussed the importance of diversity in partnerships as well as in the field. “We need to build these plans with a broader group,” Humphries said. “We don’t have all of the major partners, and until we invite them to the table, we’re going to be marginalized. We also have to sit at their table sometimes.”

The speakers also sat on two panels to answer questions about partnerships following the presentations. Some of these questions included how to know where to start and who to start with when considering partnerships, how to be comfortable with giving up some power when developing partnerships.

In his concluding remarks, TWS Executive Director Ken Williams emphasized how TWS has embraced the benefits of partnerships.

“Like other organizations represented here, in recent years The Wildlife Society has become much more proactively engaged with partners, which was identified as a key need and opportunity in our strategic plan,” Williams said, adding that the Society’s partnership goal is to contribute a stronger and more influential voice in conserving wildlife and their habitats. “We see partnerships in this context, as a critical element in providing the legacy and bequest we all seek, for our children and grandchildren and future generations. Let us continue to reach out as far as we can in this noble effort.”

Dana KobilinskyDana Kobilinsky is a science writer at The Wildlife Society. Contact her at dkobilinsky@wildlife.org with any questions or comments about her article. You can follow her on Twitter at @DanaKobi.

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