North American Special Session: Conservation Built to Last through Collaboration and Unusual Voices

North American Special Session: Conservation Built to Last through Collaboration and Unusual Voices

Collaborative conservation is not one-size-fits-all. In fact, some have called collaboration processes a “black box.” Yet collaborative conservation has been viewed as a way to achieve balance and determine acceptable trade-offs between diverse human interests, ecosystem health, and the conservation and management of wildlife. Conservation Built to Last: Advancing Engagement, Inclusion, and Shared Purpose to Address the Challenges of the Future will discuss lessons learned through the challenges and successes of collaborative conservation. This is one of four concurrent special sessions at the 83rd North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference scheduled for March 26-30 at the Hilton Norfolk, The Main in Norfolk, Virginia.

Counting sage grouse

Over the past few decades, scholars, practitioners, and managers have contributed to a growing body of work related to the theory and practice of collaborative conservation and science of adaptive co-management. These ideas can be captivating, and daunting, due to escalating pressures related to species protection, management, and biodiversity conservation in the face of anthropogenic and environmental change. As vital advances in ecological and social science are brought to bear on these challenges, it is becoming apparent that more forums are needed to challenge paradigms and bring new voices and perspectives into the arena of conservation. The bottom line is that at no time in history has the need been greater for the wildlife management and conservation community to motivate and catalyze deep change within the human side of conservation.

Conservation Built to Last: Advancing Engagement, Inclusion, and Shared Purpose to Address the Challenges of the Future will advance learning related to collaborative conservation, explore the potential polarization and resistance that often arises within conservation efforts, and identify ways to bridge gaps. Special focus will center on listening to, learning about, and engaging with new, different, and unusual voices. The session will be less about “how to collaborate” and more about uncovering and understanding the divides that arise within conservation due to different values, beliefs, and perspectives. The purpose of the session is to build the capacity of the wildlife conservation community to implement more successful, durable, multiscale, collaborative efforts by finding common ground through diversity.

The session will begin with a collaborative conservation case study—the Bi-State Greater Sage-Grouse in the California-Nevada Region—in which multiple partners from this landscape will share: their unique perspectives about the issue that brought them together; how different or unusual perspectives played a role in the system; the process that was created, and means with which collaboration and trust-building was fostered; and the outcomes for both wildlife and humans, especially those that will be viewed as successes in the long-term.

The session will also feature a special panel discussion with three presenters from corporate and recreation industries that represent unique and potentially uncommon perspectives. They will share their thoughts on conservation and identify key concepts that may help the conservation community break down barriers, more skillfully include diverse views and values, increase relevance to society at large, and ultimately be successful in achieving lasting conservation outcomes. This session is co-chaired by Ali Duvall, Assistant Coordinator, Intermountain West Joint Venture; Noreen Walsh, Regional Director, USFWS Region 6; and Tony Wasley, Director, Nevada Department of Wildlife.

In their work on collaboration processes, Ann Marie Thomson and James Perry define collaboration as “the act or process of ‘shared creation’ or discovery. It involves the creation of a new value by doing something new or different. It is transforming in the sense that you don’t leave the same way you came in.” Those attending this year’s conference are invited to join this potentially transformative and participatory session to help the wildlife conservation community reach new heights in developing partnerships, create relevancy to society, and forge new relationships to meet the challenges and uncertainties of the future.

Photo Credit
Bureau of Land Management, Flickr
December 15, 2017