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Conservation Economies

Conservation Economies
Just, Equitable and Sustainable Conservation Approaches

The Conservation Economies Program supports local and Indigenous communities who are working at the intersection of socially equitable, economically sustainable, and ecologically sound conservation approaches.


What We Do

In June 2022, EcoCiv co-hosted a workshop with Rewilding Africa and  Communal Wild Conservancies to identify priority areas for further programmatic work based on key stakeholder input and catalyze a global consensus around the principles of Conservation Economies. Discussion topics included: a global paradigm shift towards equitable outcomes, financing conservation economies, effective community engagement, and supportive policy frameworks. Participants from eight countries shared their thoughts, insights, and suggestions on how to create a more just, equitable, and sustainable conservation paradigm. A particular focus on values-oriented economic/financial conservation incentives emerged following this initial workshop. This program is currently under development.

Why Conservation Economies?

For centuries, the dominant conservation model has been “fortress conservation”, in which natural spaces are protected by excluding humans — namely local or Indigenous people — who are often blamed for ecological degradation. However, over the last ten years, the scientific discourse has countered this model. Research has shown that involving communities in conservation results in far better ecological outcomes – and leaders on the ground agree. 

Supporting community-based conservation is now seen as vital to the survival of the planet’s ecosystems – the vital organs to sustain life on earth. Unfortunately, a global consensus on the definition and the core principles of community conservation or “conservation economies” is yet to be achieved. This lack of agreement makes it difficult for key stakeholders, including foundations and large NGOs to support community conservation projects over traditional fortress conservation models. EcoCiv is currently engaged with partners to build consensus around conservation economy principles.


Conservation Economies Hypothesis

A Conservation Economy focuses equally on local community leadership, ecological wellbeing, and economic functionality. These “economies” — or systems — operate by linking the intrinsic value of nature to the understanding that sustainable management of resources can provide economic opportunity for Indigenous and rural communities through restorative, conservation-based revenue streams for stakeholders. Indigenous and rural communities are the leaders of Conservation Economies, centering their voices and knowledge for the best ecological and economic outcomes in their local context.

The ultimate goal of this work is to shift the paradigm of conservation towards sustainable, effective, and resilient Conservation Economies.


Conservation Economies Program Provides

Inclusionary conservation projects are critical to the preservation of local ecologies and livelihoods. Through a Conservation Economies model, EcoCiv will work with local communities on solutions that meet their needs, support capacity building of local organizations, and combine local priorities and knowledge with global expertise and resources to yield long-term, sustainable, and resilient initiatives.

Stay tuned as we provide more updates on our partners and exciting programmatic work in 2022. In the meantime, read our Conservation Economies Brief and watch our Global Dialogue on Conservation Economies.

For more information, please contact Jessie Green at

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