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    Haila, Yrjö and Henle, Klaus 2014. Uncertainty in biodiversity science, policy and management: a conceptual overview. Nature Conservation, Vol. 8, Issue. , p. 27.

    Haila, Yrjo 2012. Genealogy of nature conservation: a political perspective. Nature Conservation, Vol. 1, Issue. , p. 27.

    Haila, Yrjö 2012. Historical Environmental Variation in Conservation and Natural Resource Management. p. 297.

  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: June 2009

2 - Making the Biodiversity Crisis Tractable



In current conservation parlance, “biodiversity” has become a generic term for everything that is good and worth preserving in living nature. It was originally used as a rallying cry of conservation biologists/ecologists/conservationists in the 1980s; Takacs (1996) describes the process, starting from the arrangement of the Forum on BioDiversity in Washington, D.C. in 1986. After the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, biodiversity became a staple theme in international politics. Parallel to this institutional solidification of biodiversity on the political scene, the term itself has acquired more and more scientific credibility. E. O. Wilson's widely acclaimed monograph (Wilson 1992) was important for making the literary public familiar with the term. The most ambitious scientific project to date is headed by the Princeton ecologist Simon A. Levin, aiming at an Encyclopedia of Biodiversity; a five-volume printed version was published in 2001 (Academic Press), and a much larger electronic version is under preparation.

The preceding paragraph summarizes briefly the history of biodiversity as an environmental issue. The term broke through into scientific, political, and public consciousness remarkably quickly. It was invented in the early 1980s by a group of ecologists and evolutionary biologists, basically as a political slogan (see Takacs 1996). In other words, biodiversity rose to the position of an important environmental issue through deliberate social construction (Hannigan 1995; Haila 1999a).

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