SCGIS Magazine Online : Volume

Vol. 2, No. 1, July 1999

Conservation, Science and Activism: Dr. Michael Soule speaks

Dr. Michael Soule

The Society for Conservation GIS is fortunate to have Dr. Michael Soule as the keynote speaker for our second annual conference. I first met Dr. Soule when he took the reins of the Environmental Studies Dept. at the University of California, Santa Cruz. It was one of only a handful of schools offering rigorous degrees in field natural history under the guidance of noted biologists like Dr. Kenneth Norris and Dr. Raymond Dasmann. Dr. Soule grew up in the canyons, shores and deserts around San Diego and the San Diego Natural History Museum. He went on to Stanford to become one of Dr. Paul Ehrlich's first graduate students, then on to help found the first university in Malawi. Besides over 100 articles and books on topics including evolutionary biology, biodiversity policy, and ethics, he is widely known for being one of the founders of the Society for Conservation Biology and the Wildlands Project. Greg Hanscom described Dr. Soule's work in an excellent overview (High Country News Apr 26, 1999, www.hcn.org): "Michael Soulé, a slight, goateed scientist in his 60s....concluded that he could not sit back and be an 'objective' scientist while the natural world went to hell."

"The human race was driving the sixth great extinction crisis, Soulé believed, on par with the disappearance of the dinosaurs and Pleistocene creatures like the woolly mammoth and the saber-toothed tiger. It was only natural, he thought, to search for ways to protect life, and his profession. Taking the cue from Aldo Leopold and others, he added conscience to science. Soulé's conservation biology has been likened to medicine; it's science aimed at healing the land."

"Conservation biology grew largely out of a school of thought called island biogeography. The theory was pioneered by such notable naturalists as Charles Darwin, and captured in the 1967 book, The Theory of Island Biogeography, by ecologist Robert MacArthur and biologist Edward O. Wilson. Its basic principle is that large islands close to the mainland can support more types of plants and animals than smaller, more isolated islands. As islands shrink, species fall prey to inbreeding and accidents, and start dying off."



Ten years and 4,000 grants later: The ESRI Conservation Program (conservation.esri.com)

(Mountain Lion Photo: Lance Craighead)

July 28th, 1999: This date marks ten years since the first meeting between Dr. Michael Hamilton and Charles Convis at the James Reserve that started the ESRI Conservation Program. Steve Beckwitt and Peter Morrison (pictured above) joined the program in late 1989, providing the needed computer and GIS technical skills.

Since that time the ECP has hosted 9 conferences and expanded into areas including Native American/First Nations, Environmental Justice, Archeology and Health Care. The core of the ECP is grants of GIS software, training and equipment, and in the last 10 years we have carried out 4000 grants in over 80 countries. The ECP also helped found the Society for Conservation GIS and the Conservation Technology Support Program (see center section of this issue).


- Conservation, Science and Activism: Dr. Michael Soule speaks
- ESRI Conservation Program
- Vision Mapping a Wild Future: The Wildlands Project
- Editorial
- High School Students do Conservation GIS in Sitka
- Environmental Background Information Center
- Map Gallery
- GIS in Bison Conservation
- Roadless area Inventory in Utah
- Have fun with GIS for Free: Arcexplorer Fun day
- Successful GIS/GPS integration
- GIS in the Dept. of Herpetology, California Academy of Sciences
- GIS Helps Stop Sprawl in South Carolina
- Land Trusts and Conservation Planning with GIS
- Yurok Tribe uses GIS for Cultural Resources Conservation
- International Section
- 1999 Grantees bigger and better
- Making Maps and Taking Names, 1998 grantees report
- International Committee training missions
- CTSP Special Section
- Tech Tips
- Announcements
- SCGIS Status Report

Ten Years and 4,000 grants later (cont from page 1)

The Map below depicts our first ever synoptic view of ECP granting activity worldwide. It was created from 769 grant records and status reports for 1998 using location coverages from the Quick Start Database of the ESRI Arcdata Program. Although a crude classification, the types of conservation activity that organizations were using GIS for is shown for the 150 or so International grants. For the USA grants, the types of activity are summarized instead in the charts at the bottom of the map. The left chart shows total grants, the right hand chart shows grantees who had sent in status reports, a very rough indicator of early or rapid GIS progress. As a percentage of grantees, the highest success rates, approaching 50% of all grantees, were seen in research, environmental education, marine/coastal & environmental law groups. This is not surprising given the overall orientation towards publication among these groups. The average "early success" ratio was 25%, which is good compared to many computer & science-based technology grant programs.