Leverage points and levers of inclusive conservation in protected areas

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  • Miguel A. Cebrián-Piqueras
  • Ignacio Palomo
  • Veronica B. Lo
  • María D. López-Rodríguez
  • Anna Filyushkina
  • Marie Fischborn
  • Christopher M. Raymond
  • Tobias Plieninger

Inclusive conservation approaches that effectively conserve biodiversity while improving human well-being are gaining traction in the face of the sixth mass extinction of biodiversity. Despite much theorization on the governance of inclusive conservation, empirical research on its practical implementation is urgently needed. Here, using a correlation network analysis and drawing on empirical results from 263 sites described on the web platform of the PANORAMA initiative (IUCN), we inductively identified global clusters of conservation outcomes in protected and conserved areas. These clusters represent five conservation foci or archetypes, namely (i) community-based conservation, (ii) sustainable management, (iii) conflict resolution, (iv) multi-level and co-governance, and (v) environmental protection and nature’s contribution to people. Our empirical approach further revealed that some dimensions of inclusive conservation are crucial as leverage points to manage protected areas related to these clusters successfully, namely improvements in the socio-cultural context and social cohesion, enhancing the status and participation of youth, women, and minorities, improved human health, empowerment of local communities, or reestablishment of dialogue and trust. We highlight inclusive interventions such as education and capacity building, development of alliances and partnerships, and enabling sustainable livelihoods, or governance arrangements led by Indigenous peoples and local communities or private actors, as levers to promote positive transformations in the social-ecological systems of protected areas. We argue that although some of the leverage points we identified are less targeted in current protected area management, they can represent powerful areas of intervention to enhance social and ecological outcomes in protected areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number4
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 10.2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This manuscript is an outcome of the ENVISION project, funded through the 2017–2018 Belmont Forum and BiodivERsA joint call for research proposals, under the BiodivScen ERA-Net COFUND program, and with the support of the following national funders: German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Grant Number: 01LC18064; Swedish National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1854767; the Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (FORMAS, 2018 -02429); the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO); Grant PCI2018-092958 funded by MCIN/AEI/ 10.13039/501100011033. We also want to thank the valuable support of the PANORAMA web developers and the data providers for the solutions, and Peter Verburg, Marc Metzger, and Ciska Ulug for their comments on the manuscript in the latest phase.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the author(s).

    Research areas

  • community-based conservation, conservation archetypes, conservation outcomes, correlation network analysis, protected area management, social impacts, social-ecological systems, transformative change
  • Ecosystems Research