CEO Corner

Follow our CEO, Manuel Oliva, for insights and inspiration on the direction of conservation science today.

Earth Day Reflections – New Opportunities to Scale Conservation

A western pond turtle with green mosquitofern covering its head and shell.
A Western Pond Turtle (the only remaining freshwater turtle species native to California) covered in Mosquitofern or Azolla. Credit: Corey Shake, Point Blue.

On this Earth Day I have been reflecting on the urgency driving Point Blue’s work to address the interrelated challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss. In this, I find myself looking ahead to the challenges we face and how our work can create the most benefit. But I have also been reflecting back on the incredible progress we’ve already made in increasing our conservation impact.

Over the past few weeks, I have been excited to share with you some of the terrific work that our staff are taking on to scale conservation work through our science, educational programs, and restoration actions across California and beyond. In particular, we were thrilled to celebrate the first year of accomplishments under two new partnerships with California’s Wildlife Conservation Board. And we’re excited to launch a new regranting program later this spring to support local shorebird conservation partners in Latin America. An additional area of growth for us is continuing to find ways to increase the number and diversity of communities we work with to scale conservation and make sure our efforts last for decades.

No matter what work we do, it doesn’t happen without the commitment and efforts of partners on the ground. However, many communities have been historically excluded from participating in this conservation work. By expanding our ability to connect with, build trust with, and learn from more diverse communities we can grow our partnerships and the number and types of communities taking action to achieve ambitious conservation impact together.

A bird’s eye view of community-based sierra meadow restoration. Credit: Garrett Costello, Symbiotic Restoration.

In support of these goals, we are developing new tools to help us partner with communities with diverse perspectives and experiences, including historically underrepresented communities. To help guide the tools we develop we took a step back and spent 12 months looking internally and developing a “DEI Why Statement” with input from the entire Point Blue team. This statement is meant to clearly describe why diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is important for Point Blue’s success. On our website, you can find our DEI Why Statement, which is also included below.

Earth Day, from its inception, was meant as a watershed moment to raise awareness and our collective action. At a fundamental level, Point Blue’s work as an organization is to advance science, educational opportunities, and on-the-ground conservation action. This work allows us as a community to take action and ensure that ecosystems will sustain thriving wildlife and human communities well into the future. Our plan to scale our action to have greater impact requires us to have a greater number of partnerships. This is how we achieve the scale we need to help solve the dual crises of climate change and biodiversity.

Point Blue’s DEI Why Statement:

WHY is diversity, equity and inclusion important for conservation?

By learning from, collaborating with, and becoming a more diverse network, we will advance conservation outcomes that are better-informed, durable, and contribute to a brighter future with healthy ecosystems for wildlife and all human communities. Healthy ecosystems are essential to the well-being of all of us. The actions needed to protect the natural world will only happen through authentic partnerships, including with those who have previously been underrepresented and excluded from decision making and benefit-sharing. We humbly seek to expand our partnerships by advancing the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion within our organization and the conservation field.

WHY is diversity, equity and inclusion important for Point Blue as an organization?

By creating a culture rooted in diversity, equity and inclusion we will be able to foster an open environment that allows everyone to feel welcome, safe and inspired. As a science-focused organization, we value a learning mindset and strive to expand our collective understanding of how we define and develop science. As a community of people driven by a collective vision, we seek to embrace principles of justice, reciprocity, and openness, as well as transparent and inclusive decision making. We also choose to grow and celebrate the diversity of our staff and community.

WHY is diversity, equity and inclusion important for Point Blue as a member of a broader society?

To achieve our goal of developing sustainable solutions to climate change, habitat loss, and other environmental threats we must recognize that ecological conservation is inextricably linked to social and environmental justice. The field of conservation cannot be separated from the history of discriminatory practices rooted in systemic racism, colonialism, patriarchy, and white privilege which has resulted in the social and environmental inequities we see today. These systems have created and exacerbated disparities based on race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and other forms of identity. As a leader in the conservation field, we have a responsibility to acknowledge these inequities and to recognize our role in maintaining them. Only then can we meaningfully begin to identify, learn from, and address these injustices, such as the displacement of Indigenous peoples from their lands, the lack of access for many to careers in the conservation field and to natural places, and the disproportionate impacts of environmental degradation on communities of color.