Adapting participation processes to fine‐tune conservation approaches in multiactor decision settings

Arnaud Buchs, Emeline Hassenforder & Yves Meinard (2020)

Conservation Biology. Online first

Abstract. Conservation decisions are typically made in complex, dynamic, and uncertain settings, where multiple actors raise diverse and potentially conflicting claims, champion different and sometimes contradictory values, and enjoy varying degrees of freedom and power to act and influence collective decisions. Therefore, effective conservation actions require conservation scientists and practitioners to take into account the complexity of multiactor settings. We devised a framework to help conservation biologists and practitioners in this task. Institutional economic theories, which are insufficiently cited in the conservation literature, contain useful insights for conservation. Among these theories, the economies of worth can significantly contribute to conservation because it can be used to classify the types of values peoples or groups refer to when they interact during the elaboration and implementation of conservation projects. Refining this approach, we designed a framework to help conservation professionals grasp the relevant differences among settings in which decisions related to conservation actions are to be made, so that they can adapt their approaches to the features of the settings they encounter. This framework distinguishes 5 types of agreements and disagreements that can occur between actors involved in a conservation project (harmony, stricto sensu arrangement, unilateral and reciprocal compromise, and locked‐in), depending on whether they disagree on values or on their applications and on whether they can converge toward common values by working together. We identified key questions that conservationists should answer to adapt their strategy to the disagreements they encounter and identified relevant participation processes to complete the adaptation.

Keywords:  conservation action, participation, decision-making, deliberation, institutional economics, value pluralism, justification

Link to the review