The Society for Conservation Biology Has Lost Its Way

Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.

October 21, 2013


The Society for Conservation Biology was created in 1985 specifically to be an activist discipline: not just to study biodiversity, but to actively work to preserve it. But some people don't seem to know that.


In 1997 I wrote "Wildlife Need Habitat Off-Limits to Humans!", based on the obvious fact that wild animals don't like to be around humans. In the 26 years since I wrote it, there is, to my knowledge, still not one square inch of the Earth designated off-limits to all humans! Nor has my paper been published in any journal on conservation biology.


In 2004 I wrote "The Impacts of Mountain Biking on Wildlife and People -- A Review of the Literature". Conservation Biology refused to publish it because I mentioned the International Mountain Bicycling Association! Since then, not one conservation biologist has published on the subject, in spite of the obvious fact that a bicycle expands the human footprint and hence the impact on the wildlife. All over the world, mountain bikers have been given free rein to destroy as much habitat as they wish, without the land managers or the public understanding the harm that this is doing.


In 2014 I wrote "Trail-Building: Habitat Destruction by a Different Name", after trying in vain to find any research or writing on the obvious fact that trail-building destroys wildlife habitat. In spite of the fact that mountain bikers are building new trails as fast as they can, limited only by available funds, not one article or book has been published on the subject, nor have I seen any conservation biologist weigh in on the subject.


I submitted the latter paper for presentation at the NACCB conference in Toronto. It wasn't accepted! My only alternative for contacting other conferees was to give out free copies of my paper at a "free literature" table, as I have always done in the past. But I was told that there would be no such table! When did conferences stop being two-way exchanges? Now only "authorized" communications are permitted at SCB conferences?! The conference organizer told me that this was because someone in the past had paid for a table, but used it to distribute literature arguing against permitting immigration! But what does that have to do with me? Do they think I might distribute unauthorized thoughts?!


I noticed an empty table, so I asked a member of the hotel staff if I could use it. He said "sure". Later I noticed that the conference staff had removed my papers, and I was told that I had to leave the conference! The president of SCB told me that she would investigate this incident and call me, but she never called me nor returned my calls or emails. Where is it written that we now are not allowed to spread unauthorized ideas at SCB conferences???


None of my papers have ever been published by the conservation biology journals. Their excuses are always nonsensical. E.g. the editor of Conservation Science and Practice said it was "because we have a paywall"! They also said that scientific articles must be devoid of emotion in spite of the fact that the issues are all based on emotion: the love of nature! Emotion is precisely what separates conservation biology from other disciplines! Far from being "activist", the conservation biology journals are now full of jargon, which will tend to drive away all activists.


Does SCB monitor the conservation biology journals, including checking that they aren't rejecting papers that should be published? It's well known that journal editors tend to be overly conservative, and reject many papers that they should have published. E.g. Lynn Margulis's paper on chloroplasts and mitochondria as symbionts was rejected 15 times! Dr. Seuss's first book was rejected 40 times! My paper on trail-building should have been published 9 years ago, in order to help stop the habitat destruction and fragmentation being caused by mountain bikers' hundreds of miles of new trails.




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