An opportunity we can’t afford to miss

Iain Dickson

Faced with the biodiversity crisis, failures of conservation projects give rise to much soul-searching. However, for the same reason, a closer look at these failures is vital

The scale and severity of the current biodiversity crisis means that conservation practitioners are increasingly interested in the lessons learned through failure. In late 2018 we began a collaborative project[1] with other organisations in the Cambridge Conservation Initiative to look at ways of doing this.

Most conservation scenarios are complex. A single site may be affected by a multitude of different threats, many of which may be entirely unknown and/or require the collaboration of a diverse group of individuals and organisations to achieve the desired results.

This complexity is an obstacle to identifying and learning from failure, and can even produce counterproductive results. When a plane crashes, it is usually relatively straightforward to establish whether failure occurred. For many conservation efforts, establishing both whether failure occurred and how and why it occurred, is often considerably more challenging, with perceptions differing between various stakeholders.

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Andrew Milner