Shaping nature conservation in an integrated, equitable and fair way

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Engaging local stakeholders in the Denali national park, Alaska Photo: Van Riper

Engaging local stakeholders in the Denali national park, Alaska Photo: Van Riper lab

International research team including Göttingen University investigates areas of tension and prospects for inclusive approach to management of protected areas New global guidelines for the management of nature increasingly focus on environmental justice and fair and equitable decision-making. As part of the ENVISION project, researchers around the world, including the Universities of Kassel and Göttingen, examined the tensions and prospects in the reform of the management of protected areas, moving towards fair nature conservation management. The perspective piece was published in the journal One Earth.

-Inclusive conservation-, as it is known, brings certain challenges. The first is whether conservation should stop at the boundaries of protected areas. "While the idea of a protected area provides clear boundary lines, cross-sector and cross-border landscape-based management approaches can work better at taking into account the realities of our interconnected world," says Professor Tobias Plieninger, who works at the Universities of Kassel and Göttingen.

Conservation management has to involve many stakeholders and getting the balance right is a complex problem. "There is a tension between the general need to seek consensus and acknowledging conflicting opinions and this is crucial to inclusive approaches to nature conservation," emphasizes Professor Christopher Raymond, researcher at the Swedish Agricultural University and leader of the ENVISION project.

Inclusive conservation requires that local knowledge and experience be integrated into the dominant Western knowledge system. "This reform is overdue and would take conservation management a big step forward in terms of equity and fairness," argues Dr Miguel Éngel Cebrián-Piqueras, ENVISION team member and researcher at the University of Göttingen.

To acknowledge, mitigate, and, where possible, reshape these tensions, the researchers present a governance framework based on case studies of protected area management in Sweden, the Netherlands, the United States, and Spain. In it, they recommend that inclusive protected area management should acknowledge multi-layered challenges, create conditions for (self-)reflection, and (self-)questioning management, and seek new partnerships. This framework can foster stakeholder engagement in protected area management, ultimately contributing to better implementation of global biodiversity goals.

Further information about the ENVISION Project:

Original publication: Raymond et al. Inclusive conservation and the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework: Tensions and prospects, One Earth (2022), .

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