Rethinking Community-Based Conservation

Fikret Berkes
Posted on: 5/09/2004 - Updated on: 9/12/2017

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Community-based conservation (CBC) is based on the idea that if conservation and development could be simultaneously achieved, then the interests of both could be served. It has been controversial because community development objectives are not necessarily consistent with conservation objectives in a given case. I examined CBC from two angles. First, CBC can be seen in the context of paradigm shifts in ecology and applied ecology. I identified three conceptual shifts—toward a systems view, toward the inclusion of humans in the ecosystem, and toward participatory approaches to ecosystem management—that are interrelated and pertain to an understanding of ecosystems as complex adaptive systems in which humans are an integral part. Second, I investigated the feasibility of CBC, as informed by a number of emerging interdisciplinary fields that have been pursuing various aspects of coupled systems of humans and nature. These fields—common property, traditional ecological knowledge, environmental ethics, political ecology, and environmental history—provide insights for CBC. They may contribute to the development of an interdisciplinary conservation science with a more sophisticated understanding of social-ecological interactions. The lessons from these fields include the importance of cross-scale conservation, adaptive comanagement, the question of incentives and multiple stakeholders, the use of traditional ecological knowledge, and development of a cross-cultural conservation ethic.


Berkes, F. (2004). Rethinking community-based conservation. Conservation Biology, 18, 621–630. 


Document Type
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy