Improve conservation impact – understand the local context

Abstract Aerial Art / Getty Images
12 November 2017

Do you work for an environmental or sustainable development organisation and want to assess the value of ecosystem services to help achieve your conservation goals? If the answer is yes, a ‘context diagnostic tool’ described in this new video series is for you.

Over the past decade, conservation NGOs and other players have increasingly used the assessment and valuation of ecosystem services to guide conservation policy and action. These ‘valuing nature’ initiatives often assume that recognising the social and economic values of nature to people will lead to changes in policy and decision-making which will in turn lead to increased investment in conservation.

Not all projects succeed however. Failure often boils down to a lack of understanding of the local context, poor problem definition and mismatched expectations for the project.

The diagnostic tool helps practitioners understand the local context – the formal institutional, political, legal economic and social setting of conservation – to guide action for better ecosystem management. It includes five approaches based on well-established social science theories.

The method and these videos were produced as part of the Governance and Accounting for the Management of Ecological Systems (GAMES) project which is developing new approaches and tools for sound ecosystem management. The project is a partnership between the Luc Hoffmann Institute, WWF and the University of Cambridge.

A technical background report on the context diagnostic method and a practical guidance note will be available soon.

Want to get in touch?

Email the project team at
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