Reconciling diverse viewpoints within systematic conservation planning.

Published online
04 Sep 2023
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
People and Nature

Cunningham, C. A. & Crick, H. Q. P. & Morecroft, M. D. & Thomas, C. D. & Beale, C. M.
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Conservation encompasses numerous alternative viewpoints on what to value (features such as biodiversity, ecosystem services or socio-economic benefits) and how to convert these values into conservation policies that deliver for nature and people. Reconciling these differing values and viewpoints in policy development and implementation is a perennial challenge. Balancing differing stakeholder viewpoints within a single conservation plan risks some viewpoints overshadowing others. This can occur as some dominant viewpoints may lead to more marginal views being suppressed, and also through social biases during the planning process. Here we develop four separate 'caricature' conservation viewpoints, and spatially quantify each of them in order to test different approaches to equitable reconciliation. Each viewpoint prioritises different locations, dependent on the extent to which they deliver a variety of different biodiversity, well-being and economic goals. We then show how these different viewpoints can be reconciled using numeric methods. We find that a pluralist approach, which accounts for the spatial similarities and differences between viewpoints, is able to deliver equitably for multiple conservation features. This pluralist approach provides a coherent spatial conservation strategy with the capacity to satisfy advocates of quite divergent approaches to conservation.

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