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Histories of environmental concern

Histories of environmental concern

This is an ongoing project that is exploring the development of ideas about nature conservation, environmentalism and sustainability.

Concern for non-human nature has a long history, for example in classical Mediterranean societies, and in early European tropical colonial empires. In its modern form, conservation became established as a body of thought and social action towards the end of the Nineteenth Century in the USA and in Europe. In the twentieth century, the conservation of species and habitats became as powerful feature of the wider environmental movement. In the 1990s, the concept of sustainable development has become ubiquitous in global debate, although different actors use the phrase to express different visions for economy, environment and society.

Mainstream thinking about sustainable development became established at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, 'the Rio Conference') at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in June 1992. From this meeting emerged the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Framework Convention on Climate Change. Ideas about sustainable development were subsequently developed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002.

Dr Adams' research has involved three major book projects:

Against Extinction

Against Extinction

(2004)

The development of conservation internationally through the twentieth century

Green Development

Green Development

(Third edition 2008)

The evolution of ideas about sustainability and sustainable development, and an analysis of debates about environment and development in practice

Future Nature

Future Nature

(Second edition 2003)

The past development and future prospects for nature conservation in the UK.

Decolonizing Nature

Dr Adams' current work is focused on in ideas of nature in colonial Africa, particularly issues of hunting and protected area establishment (Adams 2003b, Prendergast and Adams 2003). The volume Decolonising Nature, edited with Martin Mulligan (University of Western Sydney) and published in 2003 attempts to build links between these historical interests and contemporary policy debate.

Publications: