Collaborating across 24 nations for people and biodiversity

April 4, 2023

With biodiversity and human well-being so inextricably linked, conservation must be practiced in a way that also alleviates poverty, improves human welfare, and promotes equality. This is what the field of community-based conservation strives to foster.

Researchers at the Wilder Institute have coordinated an international collaboration comprised of members from 24 nations to conduct a horizon scan of community-based conservation, identifying its risks and opportunities over the next 15 years.

“This is a great opportunity for conservation practitioners, governments and community organizations to re-think how we operate,” said Brandi Chuchman, Associate Director of Conservation & Science at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo. “We need to work together to prevent pitfalls and strive towards transformational change that positively impacts human well-being while shifting the fate of species-at-risk.”


Horizon Scanning – a tool for strategic foresight

Horizon scanning is a systematic method for identifying emerging trends and threats, and planning for them proactively. A published in the journal, TREE in March 2023 provides foresight on how we can effectively bring benefits to both nature and people through conservation over the next decade and more. The Community Conservation Horizon Scan welcomed survey responses from 1,175 individuals in 109 nations around the world.

Altogether, an overwhelming 2,527 suggested threats and opportunities were collected through the survey. By recognizing emerging threats early on, we are presented with the opportunity to avoid or mitigate them, while also taking advantage of budding new opportunities.


Key themes

Global biodiversity policy, human and community rights, crisis-induced human migrations, diversity, equity, inclusion and access, economic reforms, and conservation-compatible income and financial tools emerged as important themes. The data collected was used to identify 15 key topics which may significantly impact and shape community-based conservation in the future.

For example, under themes related to income and economics, the horizon scan highlighted potential opportunities such as climate-smart and wildlife-smart agriculture and fisheries, tourism reforms, and mobile banking systems which may help community conservation initiatives be economically viable. Increasing scrutiny of businesses’ Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) impacts and ideas for sustainability-focused economic reforms could also benefit community-based conservation initiatives.


Thinking about the future, right now 

The heart of effective community-based conservation lies in our ability to ensure that conservation measures are culturally respectful and locally tailored. Co-creating knowledge with diverse communities ensures better outcomes for people and nature. The Wilder Institute is excited to implement the learnings from the horizon scan and start to make these important changes.

The Horizon Scan collaboration includes conservation scientists and practitioners from around the world. The full list of collaborators, as well as the 15 topics, can be found in the full paper here.


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