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In the past, biodiversity conservation measures have been concentrated on the creation of reserves set aside from agricultural, urban and industrial purposes. Such reserves will continue to play a role in conservation efforts. However, it is clear that the protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning needs to be undertaken on a landscape-wide basis, including on farmland and in cities. This necessitates a shift in the way we think about human-nonhuman relations in modern societies, from the protection of nature over yonder to the co-creation of mutually life-sustaining forms of multispecies co-existence in those places where people live, work and produce their food. Within the burgeoning field of multispecies ethnography, this has been framed in terms of conviviality and care, entailing the cultivation of practices of co-existing in a shared space with a heightened attentiveness to others’ presences, with their species-specific modes of inhabitation, communication and interaction.

Whereas most research in multispecies studies remains focussed on human-animal relations, MESH also seeks to explore interdisciplinary avenues for overcoming plant blindness, highlighting the crucial importance of plants, fungi and the microbial life of soils for the flourishing of all life, including human food production. It thus catalyses collaborations between human-animal and human-plant research, and explorations of conviviality from historical, philosophical and literary perspectives, with multispecies approaches to conservation in social and cultural anthropology, and the life sciences.