The Dawn of Conservation Diplomacy
U.S.-Canadian Wildlife Protection Treaties in the Progressive Era
In his highly readable text, Dorsey argues that successful conservation treaties came only after conservationists learned to marshal scientific evidence, public sentiment, and economic incentives in their campaigns for protective legislation. The first treaty, intended to rescue the overfished boundary waters, failed to gain the necessary support and never became law. Despite scientific evidence of the need for conservation, politicians, and the general public were unable to counter the vocal opposition of fishermen across the continent. A few years later, conservationists successfully rallied popular sympathy for fur seals threatened with slaughter and the North Pacific Fur Seal Convention was adopted. By the time of the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1916, the importance of aesthetic appeal was clear: North American citizens were joining chapters of the Audubon Society in efforts to protect beautiful songbirds. Conservationists also presented economic evidence to support their efforts as they argued that threatened bird species provided invaluable service to farmers.
Dorsey recounts the story of each of these early treaties, examining the scientific research that provided the basis for each effort, acknowledging the complexity of the issues, and presenting the personalities behind the politics. He argues that these decades-old treaties both directly affect us today and offer lessons for future conservation efforts.
About the Authors
"Kurkpatrick Dorsey understands how politics deeply affects diplomacy and how public opinion shapes conservation policies. So many issues are similar to those which frustrate Canadian and American negotiators today. The Dawn of Conservation Diplomacy is excellent history which illuminates both past and present."—John English, University of Waterloo and former Member of Parliament, Canadian House of Commons
"This is a pioneering work that opens fresh, important perspectives on Americans by revealing their views on preserving (and exploiting) their natural environment, their introduction to science into policy decisions, their too-often cynical approach to relations with Canada, and their political genius for 'the art of the deal.' And it is all superbly done."—Walter LaFeber, Cornell University
"A well-researched and well-written account of an important early chapter in international wildlife preservation of interest not only to environmental historians but anyone interested in the contemporary problems of international cooperation for environmental preservation."—Tom Dunlap, author of Saving America's Wildlife
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