Helena Siipi: Ethical aspects of assisted migration of endangered species

Last changed: 18 March 2019

Helena SiipiHelena Siipi is a university teacher at Turku University,
Philosophy Unit

Changes to habitats due to for instance climate change are destined to negatively affect the habitats of many species. The changes of habitat are in many cases assessed to occur at a faster rate than species can relocate. Thus, such species will be negatively affected and possible extinct. One way to cope with this issue is by relocating such species to more favorable habitats, so-called ‘assisted migration’. Such efforts may be a necessary component in avoiding the drastic acceleration of species extinction that climate change will result in.

There are many issues to consider in such measures, however. Some issues pertain to the many uncertainties that influence whether relocation will be successful, as it may harm both the destination habitat as well as the species. But some issues also concern whether one should undertake such efforts, and how we are to understand natural values in such contexts.

Recommended, but not required, reading:

Siipi, H., & Ahteensuu, M., 2016. Moral Relevance of Range and Naturalness in Assisted Migration, Environmental Values 25, 465-483