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Creating a frame of reference for conservation interventions

Bull, Joseph, Singh, N.J., Suttle, K.B., Bykova, E.A., Milner-Gulland, E.J. (2015) Creating a frame of reference for conservation interventions. Land Use Policy, 49 . pp. 273-286. ISSN 0264-8377. E-ISSN 1873-5754. (doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2015.08.005) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:63794)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided.
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Understanding the context within which conservation interventions take place is critical to effective implementation. The context includes baseline status of conservation targets, and most likely counterfactual given recent trends in those targets i.e. what would have occurred in the absence of intervention. The baseline and counterfactual together provide a ‘frame of reference’ for judging conservation outcomes. It has recently been demonstrated that, since conservation interventions take place within dynamic systems, and involve either encouraging or discouraging changes in those systems, the reference frame against which interventions are evaluated fundamentally determines how much effort is required to achieve objectives, and whether they are deemed successful. In turn, this makes frames of reference crucial to planning and policy development. Counterfactuals are difficult to estimate, however, and subject to considerable uncertainty. They are consequently not widely specified in practice.

We analyse the historical context, baseline and trends for Uzbekistan’s semi-arid Ustyurt plateau, as a case study development of a frame of reference for policymaking. Our framework incorporates physical, social, economic and institutional considerations. We conduct analyses of socio-ecological trends relevant to conservation targets in the region over the last 100 years – particularly the iconic, critically endangered saiga antelope Saiga tatarica – based upon primary data sets (e.g. vegetation surveys), secondary data sets obtained from collaborators (e.g. meteorological data), and satellite imagery.

We demonstrate that an informative frame of reference can be developed even in the absence of exhaustive data on land use and landscape ecology. This is because the broader historical context, drivers of change, and interactions between these drivers are so influential upon the necessary design of conservation interventions. The approach taken here – of dividing trends and drivers of change into those that are physical, social, economic and institutional, and considering conservation targets in light of each in turn – provides a manageable structure for building a frame of reference. Additionally, it provides a means for making assumptions about the counterfactual explicit, leaving them open to critical evaluation.

Finally, by developing alternative feasible counterfactuals, testable hypotheses can be outlined and used to improve future iterations of management plans—essentially, an adaptive management approach.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2015.08.005
Uncontrolled keywords: Baseline, Biodiversity offset, Counterfactual, Uzbekistan
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Joseph Bull
Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2017 08:13 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2022 11:01 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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