We are thrilled to announce an exciting new initiative that will give us a chance properly to celebrate the great achievements of conservation−the ‘Shockington Conservation Awards’.

This global initiative will promote all that is beautiful, true and just in our noble cause, and honour, properly, the hardworking people who labour so tirelessly for it. Laureates of our awards will receive a personalised, bespoke certificate, which has our unique signature upon it, their citation and an IOU for a substantial sum of money, that will be exchangeable for actual gold pieces just as soon as we have found the appropriate corporate sponsor with a sufficiently guilty conscience.

We have listed the initial achievements for which we have set out prizes, with current nominees, and we would welcome further additions to it.


1. The Most Powerful Protected Area Generating Machine

After careful consideration we have decided to present this award to the David Attenborough Building in the University of Cambridge because it is home to the world’s largest concentration of conservation planners devising new large-scale protected area distributions.

The DAB may in fact have the unusual distinction of housing more plans that might entail the relocation and/or economic displacement of people than any other place on the planet (other than perhaps the White House).

Unfortunately, a small technical hitch has meant that this great building has itself been located in the wrong place, and needs to move a couple of hundred feet to the right in order to make way for a small but important new protected area on Grafton St. But as soon as this move is accomplished, the DAB will be eligible to receive this great accolade. We look forward to the occasion.

2. The Most Assiduous Forester

Awarded to Prof T. Crowther’s Laboratory for their repeated tree-hugging, tree-supporting and tree-affirming publications

3. Most Efficient Use of the Same Idea (I)

The judges were unable to make an award in this category.

4. Most Efficient Use of the Same Idea (II)

The first prize is awarded to Kartel Shockington (yes that’s us!), for repeating the same idea for a prize within two lines. That’s panache that is. Second prize to Linus Blomqvist, Ted Nordhaus and Michael Schellenberger for their publication of Nature Unbound, a book about conservation that is, unwittingly, clearly a sequel to Nature Unbound, also about conservation, by Dan Brockington, Rosaleen Duffy, and Jim Igoe. If other budding authors wish to be eligible for this award in the future then other titles they could reproduce include The Jungle Book, A Tale of Two CITES and Sense and Sustainability.

5. The Ostrich Award for Nailing, and Solving, the Problem.

Our Laureate for this award is the software Marxan for enabling a vital strategic move for conservation planning.

There are two basic approaches to human despoilation of the environment. One approach
observes that our economies are governed by greed, encourage excess, and economic strategies and metrics are all about ramping up treadmills of economic growth. Therefore, we need to tackle the incentives and systems which are at the root of these evils.

Whilst a worthy task, this is difficult. Opposing capitalism risks offending Americans, who would label us as socialists. It would also threaten our vital corporate funding. Conservation cannot go there. So, we need a second approach, and in Marxan we have one which can ease our consciences brilliantly. It allows us to move the despoilation into a different place, and recategorise the planet so there are still some nice bits left for rich tourists to enjoy.

Marxan, if you will forgive an inappropriate metaphor, kills two birds with one stone. It deals with the strategic task AND it solves the mathematical problem of resource allocation. In the process it even produces thousands of beautiful maps that we can publish in the Greatest Journal Ever. Not only is it a brilliant tool for optimally identifying appropriate allocation of conservation resources at small scales, but in the hands of the right planners (especially anyone located in the DAB), it can re-invent the planet as if capitalism caused no problems at all.

6. The Dodo Award for Making Wildlife Disappear

This may seem a strange award to make to any conservationist, but the point here is that if there is too much wildlife, well we wouldn’t have conservation at all. It is important therefore to introduce wildlife deficiencies strategically to make sure that conservation always has relevance and purpose.

Our Laureate for this award goes to Bernado Strassburg and colleagues for a brilliant paper on restoration that removed all wildlife from any agricultural land. That’s 33 percent of the planet cleansed of all biodiversity in a line of code! It is one of the neatest solutions to the land sharing / sparing debate that we have ever encountered.

Better still, these wildlife distributions have now been imported en masse into other models, including an attempt to identify places where wildlife are threatened. Thus, no wildlife are now threatened on agricultural lands, because no wildlife are there! This has made it rather easy for several large fertiliser companies and farming unions to come on board and sponsor this award.

In addition to these allocated prizes the judges would welcome nominations for:

  1. The Barbie-Saviour award for the conservationist whose life is most likely to be optioned by a major film-maker.
    Eligibility: Any white conservationist working in an exotic environment.
  2. The Most Compassionate Conservationist
    Eligibility: Any conservationist who is in touch, and we mean seriously in touch, with their feelings.
  3. Burton-Speke Most Original Re-Discoverer Award.
    Eligibility: Anyone who claims an original first sighting of something locals have known about for ages or completely reinvents an already existing field of study.
  4. Biggest Map (Any map, about anything, just so long as it is enormous)
    Eligibility: Has to have been published in a very important journal, but in a tiny and scarcely legible way

This article is from issue


2022 Jun