Happy Birthday DICE

This week I’ve been down in Canterbury visiting my brothers, and had the opportunity to drop in on the 20th anniversary of the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology. DICE is 20 years old, and has now trained more conservationists than any other institution in the world. Among this year’s crop is my brother Paul, co-founder of Make Wealth History.

DICE was founded with a unique vision – a practical realisation that conservationists need to work in both natural and social sciences to be successful. This approach sets conservation in its full context, taking in development and community studies, law, and international trade, as well as the science. In the field, DICE’s work is characterised by an understanding that local people are stakeholders, and the best solutions are the ones that benefit both the environment and the community.

“DICE was started with a very simple idea”, said founder Ian Swingland, “and that was that I believed firmly that the questions and problems in the world concerning the environment, ecology, and behaviour, could only be resolved by a multi-disciplinary approach.” The success of that idea is proved in the institute’s hundreds of graduates at work in conservation, in environmental policy and treaties, and in a number of species that have been successfully saved over the years.

The institute celebrated with an evening of lectures looking back at past successes, and with the launch of a scholarships appeal. Many people who would like to train with DICE are unable to do so, and a new endowment could create 35 bursaries for students from strategic areas, including the Middle East, China and Eastern Europe.

Among the guest speakers was Edwin Sapohoro, visiting from Rwanda, where he has been working to re-train gorilla poachers into farmers. His innovative work earned him the IUCN Young Conservationist of the Year title in 2008. He has a great story, and you can read our interview with him here next week.

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