Controlling Biodiversity? Ethical analysis of the case of swine fever and wild boar in Denmark

By C. Gamborg & P. Sandøe (2006)
Ethics and the politics of food. Wageningen.


Biodiversity has high priority these days – not many would argue against a concern for it. However, the implications of the priority depend on the level of nature we are addressing. Big mammals are absent from Danish nature. They have been here before, so why not reintroduce them or allow for natural migration to promote biodiversity and wildness? But a “richer” nature is not the only value at stake. Denmark is also the world’s largest exporter of pork. Wild boars could act as a vector for classical swine fever (CSF) infections in conventionally farmed pigs. This looks like a classic conflict between considerable economic interests and profound conservation concerns.

To get to a full understanding of the issues, and to open a more comprehensive discussion, we need to address the embedded ethical issues. What degree of control are we ready to exert, and how do we really value nature? The paper argues that besides the distinction and potential conflict between nature as a value and the common good, there is also an interesting distinction to be made between “micro-nature” (including the virus that cause classical swine fever) and “macro-nature” (medium sized flora and fauna). Predominantly, micro-nature is something we want to control, whereas we want macro-nature to be let loose. This dichotomy of nature has to be addressed.

Full text "Controlling Biodiversity? Ethical analysis of the case of swine fever and wild boar in Denmark" (pdf)

Beavers and Biodiversity: The Ethics of Ecological Restoration

By C. Gamborg & P. Sandøe (2004) 
Philosophy and Biodiversity
. Cambridge University Press.


This paper is about the value conflicts that lie behind ecological restoration initiatives. We focus on a case of beaver reintroduction in southern Scandinavia. We ask: what assumptions about the value of nature and biodiversity underpin nature restoration, and in particular species restoration? Beavers have been reintroduced not only to ensure their long-term survival as a species, but as agents that foster biodiversity and promote variation in the natural environment. In the paper, we show that appeals to biodiversity are made by both advocates and opponents of species restoration, but with very different results. We suggest that this is because two quite different conceptions of biodiversity are at stake. On one conception, biodiversity is constituted by certain “end-states”. On the other, it is defined by a certain kind of “historical” process.

Full text "Beavers and Biodiversity: The Ethics of Ecological Restoration" (pdf)