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B E


Dr. Jane Goodall with chimpanzee Figan at Gombe National Park. © The Jane Goodall Institute


What are the some of the worst decisions we have made impacting our earth? Take the Murray Darling River system, imagine that you take an area that is starved for water anyway and then you want to grow rice because the government suggests this is a good idea. So, you build a dam and take water away from the river to irrigate your fields until, you get to a situation - as it was three or four years ago. Where the water was no-longer flowing from this great river system and out into the ocean but was so low that the ocean was flooding into the river system and the salinity of the water and the whole river delta was more intense than in the ocean itself, with the shocking impact on all the creatures living there! And, if the flooding hadn’t happened, then the only option that people had, if they wanted to keep the river flowing - was incredibly expensive pumping operations to pump the salt water out. I could go on with hundreds, of hundreds of these kind of things but they are all much the same - it is a lack of wisdom, of thinking through, of caring about generations and the future, it’s about the bottom line, it’s about economics.


How has your own journey helped shape the role you now play in conservation? It began because I was traveling around Africa trying to talk about the plight facing the chimpanzees who were vanishing and the forests were vanishing. Learning about the problems of Africa and the African’s, realizing the number of people living in poverty who have no option but to destroy the environment in order to survive, and that an awful lot of African problems are the result of a legacy of colonialism. Realizing it was necessary to go beyond Africa and talk to people in Europe and the United States where you get these huge international corporations, globalization, then increasingly go into Asia, learning about all the problems of the different people around the world. So, my conservation strategy has been shaped by understanding that we’ve made a mess! The strategy is: If we don’t raise new generations to be better stewards than we’ve been - everything we do is useless. That is Roots & Shoots, that is my focus.


As a youth, what were your dreams for the future of wildlife and how have they changed? When I was young the circumstance weren’t dire, it has all changed since World War II, increasingly fast and furious. So, when I was young, my dreams were about getting to Africa, exploring the wild places, living with animals and it just took time to understand that things are no-longer as they were.


What gave you confidence as an individual your actions and voice could make a difference? When everybody laughed at my dreams, my mother used to say... “If you really want something you have to work hard and never give up!”


What have you found key to imparting wild appreciation regardless of culture or wealth? To work with young people because they’re the future, layout the situation with no finger-pointing, not blaming anybody, but to say, this is what is happening to the environment and to species - these are the problems that face people on different continents, of different ethnic groups and different levels of wealth.


Sadly, it’s not your fault, but you young people are inheriting a very unbalanced and unfair world. So, the sooner you start talking to each other, thinking about ways to change this - all the better and there are a lot of us oldies who are wanting to help you!


Where have you felt Roots and Shoots has been most strongly embraced? I think they embrace it everywhere. There is a real need in the developing countries, developed countries are more complacent and more likely to think: it’s nothing to do with us, our lives are ok, and this is all a whole lot of hype. So, it is tougher to get going in the developed countries but never-the-less once you break through and get young people to stop blocking and listen, which you can only do by telling stories, ‘true stories’.


INSPIRATION


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