The conservation of species is one of the foundations of conservation biology. Successful species conservation has often been defined as simply the avoidance of extinction. We argue that this focus, although important, amounts to practicing conservation at the “emergency room door,” and will never be a sufficient approach to conserving species. Instead, we elaborate a positive definition of species conservation on the basis of six attributes and propose a categorization of different states of species conservation using the extent of human management and the degree to which each of the attributes is conserved. These states can be used to develop a taxonomy of species “recovery” that acknowledges there are multiple stable points defined by ecological and social factors. “With this approach, we hope to contribute to a new, optimistic conservation biology that is not based on underambitious goals and that seeks to create the conditions under which Earth's biological systems can thrive.
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Vol. 61 • No. 1