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Improving conservation practice with principles and tools from systems thinking and evaluation

Knight, Andrew T.; Cook, Carly N.; Redford, Kent H.; Biggs, Duan; Romero, Claudia; Ortega‑Argueta, Alejandro; Norman, Cameron D.; Parsons, Beverley; Reynolds, Martin; Eoyang, Glenda and Keene, Matt (2019). Improving conservation practice with principles and tools from systems thinking and evaluation. Sustainability Science, 14(6) pp. 1531–1548.

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DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-019-00676-x
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Abstract

Achieving nature conservation goals require grappling with ‘wicked’ problems. These intractable problems arise from the complexity and dynamism of the social–ecological systems in which they are embedded. To enhance their ability to address these problems, conservation professionals are increasingly looking to the transdisciplines of systems thinking and evaluation, which provide philosophies, theories, methods, tools and approaches that show promise for addressing intractable problems in a variety of other sectors. These transdisciplines come together especially around praxis, i.e., the process by which a theory or idea is enacted, embodied or realized. We present a review and synthesis of the learnings about praxis that have emerged from The Silwood Group, a consortium of conservation professionals, professional evaluators, and complexity and systems thinkers. The Silwood Group believes that for conservation activities to achieve ambitious goals, we should benefit nature without compromising the well-being of people, and that framing a praxis for conservation in the context of social–ecological systems will provide the greatest potential for positive impact. The learnings are presented as four key principles of a ‘praxis for effective conservation’. The four principles are: (1) attend to the whole with humility; (2) engage constructively with the values, cultures, politics, and histories of stakeholders; (3) learn through evaluative, systemic enquiry, and (4) exercise wisdom in judgement and action. We also provide descriptions and references for tools and methods to support such praxis and discuss how the thinking and approaches used by conservation professionals can be transformed to achieve greater effectiveness.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2019 The Authors
ISSN: 1862-4057
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Not SetNot SetNERC (Natural Environment Research Council)
Keywords: Complexity; Knowing–doing gap; Learning; Praxis; Transdisciplinarity; Transformative learning; Wicked problems; Wisdom
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Engineering and Innovation
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Research Group: Innovation, Knowledge & Development research centre (IKD)
Item ID: 60338
Depositing User: Martin Reynolds
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2019 13:45
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2019 08:29
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/60338
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