To conserve all of our native fauna is a dangerous idea because it encompasses all the landscape, not just National Parks and Nature Reserves; all species, not just selected species such as charismatic vertebrates; it impacts on all decisions on the use of the land and the water and everything on it or in it. Acknowledging the conservation problem in principle, and doing many valuable things to recover species near extinction, is so attractive that we can be mesmerised into considering that the problem of the extinction process is being dealt with. In essence, the danger lies in the shortfall of the application of the principles of ecologically sustainable development to conserving all the elements of biodiversity. We have done a great deal as a society to conserve nature, but it is not enough. Natural areas and populations of native wildlife are still shrinking in Australia along with the rest of the world. Evidence now shows that ecosystems services generate economic benefits which exceed those from continued habitat loss to the extent of a benefit:cost ratio of at least 100:1. This is breathtaking; it confirms our intuitive appreciation of nature, it confronts the exploitative developers, and reveals the lie that conserving nature is anti-wealth. Old thinking prevails to tragic results. Respect for the natural environment is a fundamental principle of humanity. Seeing things with fresh eyes is a challenge, and for conservation, that means challenging such assumptions as the primacy of the economic growth paradigm. For a zoologist, it means finding out what is missing from those economic and political arguments that diminish or dismiss conservation concerns, such as knowing the status and ecology of all species, and all the threatening processes affecting the survival of our wildlife.

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