Margules et al. 2020
Although the goals of conservation are clear, there is still much progress to be made on how to achieve those goals, balancing local aspirations with environmental values. One of the overarching reasons has been that conservation has often overlooked the complex social, economic, and political context in which conservation actions take place. To be successful, interventions need to be rooted in a deep understanding of how social-ecological systems work, and what influences the behaviour of those who shape the landscapes where interventions take place. This requires paying attention to the diversity of local stakeholders, their values, and ways of knowing. Lessons from conservation can be applied to nature-based solutions, since the types of interventions often overlap and a conservation intervention, if managed to provide ecosystem services to people, will often qualify as a nature-based solution.
This study presents lessons from achieving conservation in long-term landscape scale projects in the tropics. Specifically, it explains five practices to gather evidence to improve decision-making:
1) Inductive methods to develop an understanding of the social-ecological context
2) Theories of change
3) Network analysis
4) Scenario development and simulation modeling
5) Multi-criteria analysis
These five techniques can be used stand-alone or in combination to provide 1) a deeper understanding of the context 2) engagement with all stakeholders 3) negotiation of shared goals and 4) continuous learning and adaptation. Although these approaches can be applied with minimal resources and are fundamental to achieve impact, their value is under appreciated by academic institutions and funders. Therefore, a shift in academic incentive structures and evaluations is essential to support academics working in such social-ecological landscapes. Nature-based solutions, like conservation, are fundamentally about natural resource management and take place in complex, social-ecological landscapes shaped by a diversity of actors. As such, the nature-based solutions practice community should learn from conservation science to inform the design, implementation, and management of nature-based solutions.
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