That a billion animals may die as a result of this summer’s fires has horrified the world. For many conservation biologists and land managers, however, the unprecedented extent and ferocity of the fires has incinerated much more than koalas and their kin.
The scale of the destruction has challenged what is fundamentally an optimistic worldview held by conservationists: that with sufficient time and money, every species threatened by Australia’s 250 years of colonial transformation cannot just be saved from extinction, but can flourish once again.
The nation’s silent, apocalyptic firescapes have left many conservation biologists grieving – for the animals, the species, their optimism, and for some, lifetimes of diligent work.
So many of us are wondering: have lives spent furthering conservation been wasted? Should we give up on conservation work, when destruction can be wrought on the environment at such unprecedented scales? MORE
Header image: A brushtail possum with ears and legs burnt in a bushfire in January. Credit: Steven Saphore.