Futerra Sustainability Communications’ Brand Biodiversity Report has suggested that messages around extinction are harmful to promoting biodiversity and charities should instead focus on celebrating existing nature.
Futerra co-founder Ed Gillespie said the most powerful driver of public behaviour was ‘not loss, but love’.
He praised the RSPB’s recent Love Nature Week campaign, which ran from 29 May to 5 June, and called on members of the public to donate money to raise funds for wildlife.
But he was more critical of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). ‘Most of its comms work, which is designed to appeal to core members, is about the loss of charismatic megafauna, the big beasts we can relate to that have brown eyes and wet noses,’ said Gillespie.
However, WWF head of campaigns Colin Butfield responded: ‘We have to point out extinctions because the rate at which they are happening is terrifying.
‘But I don’t believe we rely solely on extinction – we also give solutions. It’s only a portion of what we do.’
Butfield added that WWF promotional materials were more likely to feature images of untouched forests than those that have been decimated by loggers.
Futerra’s report suggests that scientific communicators are mistaken in using logical information to influence opinion, when they should instead focus on emotions.
The report identifies four kinds of biodiversity message: loss, love, need and action.
It is being launched on 12 July as a guide to communicating biodiversity to business, governments and the public.