Practitioner insights as a means of setting a context for conservation

Sanders, Michele Jeanette; Miller, Laura; Bhagwat, Shonil A.; Grient, Jesse Marije Anne and Rogers, Alex David (2020). Practitioner insights as a means of setting a context for conservation. Conservation Biology, 34(1) pp. 113–124.



A key obstacle to conservation success is the tendency of conservation professionals to tackle each challenge individually rather than collectively and in context. We sought to prioritize barriers to conservation previously described in the conservation literature. We undertook an online survey of 154 practitioners from over 70 countries to ascertain the most important barriers to conservation they faced. We used statistical analyses to identify the key impediments to conservation success and to examine whether these were affected by organizational attributes. Twenty‐one barriers were identified. The importance ascribed to those was influenced by continent of operation and organization size, but not by organization age or autonomy (from larger parent organizations). We found the most important barriers to consider when undertaking conservation action were wider issues (e.g., population growth, consumerism, favoring development, and industrial‐scale activity), operating environment (e.g., lack of political will, ineffective law enforcement, weak governments, corruption, safety and security), community attributes (e.g., dynamics, conflicts, and education levels), and the way conservation is undertaken (overconfidence, lack of funding, and externally set agendas). However, we advise against applying a one‐size‐fits‐all approach. We propose that conservationists account for the complex socioecological systems they operate in if they are to achieve success.

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