Towards Convivial Conservation: Governing Human-Wildlife Relations in the Anthropocene
CONVIVA is a major research project funded by the Belmont Forum and NORFACE. It is one of the main ways through which convivial conservation is currently being operationalized.
The project is grounded in the premise that conservation is critical to transformations to sustainability but that its practices need to change radically. Conservation can be effective in protecting biodiversity in places, but in toto has failed to halt global biodiversity loss. Continued habitat fragmentation and reduced funding during times of austerity compound this problem. Many conservationists now acknowledge this, leading to vigorous ‘Anthropocene’ discussions on how to reconfigure human-wildlife relations, protected areas and the role of economic development in conservation.
CONVIVA’s key objective is to conceptually refine and empirically test the prospects for one proposal emerging from these debates: ‘convivial conservation’. This new model moves beyond protected areas and faith in markets to build landscape, governance and funding pathways that integrate conservation and poverty reduction, while enhancing prosperity. CONVIVA investigates the prospects for convivial conservation by comparing cutting-edge conservation cases that address human-wildlife conflict involving apex predators in Brazil, Finland, Tanzania and USA. Our hypothesis is that if ‘living with’ apex predators can be effectively combined with new forms of economic development, a transition to convivial conservation can be boosted significantly.
More information on the CONVIVA project can be found here.
Convivial conservation draws inspiration from many promising examples of collectives and individuals doing conservation differently and holistically. Fundamentally, it sees conservation as something that is part and parcel of a broader model of development, and hence if this model of development is unsustainable, so will be conservation. Convivial conservation is therefore a struggle for a more equal and sustainable model of development in the 21st century, and this is what connects it to many similar struggles and movements around the world.
In order to learn from and contribute to these struggles and practices about doing conservation differently, a growing number of research projects and initiatives have recently started. The idea is to build on these examples to develop a general conservation model embodying more convivial principles both within these sites and elsewhere.