Key Attributes

There are four key attributes that lead to effective community conservation in complex social-ecological systems. These attributes include meanings, motivations, governance, and outcomes.

Meaning – Understanding and communicating the different meanings of conservation to local communities, governments and NGOs may improve a community’s environmental initiative by establishing a conservation policy that fits with local realities and needs.

Motivations – This attribute allows researchers to understand the structure and interaction between the social and ecological system. Three questions you can ask to understand the motivation for conservation in your community include:

  1. What are the motivations (or lack thereof) for environmental conservation and stewardship?
  2. Who is or is not motivated to be involved in stewardship, both locally and within
  3. high-level governments?
  4. How closely linked are conservation motivations to concerns about sustainability of livelihoods and economies?

Governance – For this attribute it is important to determine which components of governance work to promote conservation and are broadly acceptable to local communities. The main goal is to achieve a fundamental balance between food and livelihood needs, while ensuring that the ecosystem continues to provide goods and services.

Outcomes – Outcomes of conservation initiatives will be multi-dimensional in nature. Therefore, researchers need to consider environmental outcomes, social-economic outcomes, livelihood outcomes, social-cultural factors, equity factors, and governance processes. It is important to examine the impact human use and conservation can have across the entire social ecological system, with a focus on the outcomes that are viewed as the most relevant and important.

For more detailed information concerning the meanings, motivations, governance, and outcomes of conservation see pages 8-10 in our SES guidebook “Analysis of Social-Ecological Systems for Community Conservation.”

Previous: Frameworks      Next: Definitions