Advancing protected area effectiveness assessments by disentangling social-ecological interactions: A case study from the Luangwa Valley, Zambia

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


Protected and conserved areas (PCAs) target at biodiversity conservation and human well-being, but often reflect low levels of effectiveness. Understanding PCAs social-ecological systems in which people and nature interact in so-called social-ecological interactions is key to understanding the roots of (in)effectiveness, and to leverage change toward resilient and sustainable systems. Despite this potential, social-ecological interactions in PCAs are commonly neglected in effectiveness evaluations. To address this gap, we elaborated a thorough understanding of the social-ecological interactions in PCAs through the following steps: In a first step, we extracted from scientific literature which social-ecological interactions influence the effectiveness of PCAs in general and derived influencing factors which shape those interactions. Based on these insights, we developed an analytical framework, which, in a second step, we applied to a case study in North Luangwa, Zambia. We elucidated three dimensions of social-ecological interactions occurring in the study area: care (e.g., conservation programs), conflict (e.g., disease transmission), and use (e.g., hunting). We visualized relationships between these interactions and associated key variables in a causal loop diagram. Finally, we drew on the case study in Zambia's Luangwa Valley to propose system-specific metrics for key variables central to the social-ecological structure of the study area to make effectiveness measurable. Our approach allows for linking site-specific social-ecological interactions to PCA effectiveness. More generally, our findings call for the consideration of the relationships between people and nature when assessing conservation effectiveness.

ZeitschriftConservation Science and Practice
Anzahl der Seiten16
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 08.2023