Strengthen causal models for better conservation outcomes for human well-being.
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BACKGROUND:Understanding how the conservation of nature can lead to improvement in human conditions is a research area with significant growth and attention. Progress towards effective conservation requires understanding mechanisms for achieving impact within complex social-ecological systems. Causal models are useful tools for defining plausible pathways from conservation actions to impacts on nature and people. Evaluating the potential of different strategies for delivering co-benefits for nature and people will require the use and testing of clear causal models that explicitly define the logic and assumptions behind cause and effect relationships. OBJECTIVES AND METHODS:In this study, we outline criteria for credible causal models and systematically evaluated their use in a broad base of literature (~1,000 peer-reviewed and grey literature articles from a published systematic evidence map) on links between nature-based conservation actions and human well-being impacts. RESULTS:Out of 1,027 publications identified, only ~20% of articles used any type of causal models to guide their work, and only 14 total articles fulfilled all criteria for credibility. Articles rarely tested the validity of models with empirical data. IMPLICATIONS:Not using causal models risks poorly defined strategies, misunderstanding of potential mechanisms for affecting change, inefficient use of resources, and focusing on implausible efforts for achieving sustainability.
Published Version (Please cite this version)
Cheng, Samantha H, Madeleine C McKinnon, Yuta J Masuda, Ruth Garside, Kelly W Jones, Daniel C Miller, Andrew S Pullin, William J Sutherland, et al. (2020). Strengthen causal models for better conservation outcomes for human well-being. PloS one, 15(3). p. e0230495. 10.1371/journal.pone.0230495 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/20569.
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David’s research centers on marine coupled human-natural systems, focusing predominantly on marine management and tropical coral reef systems. Overall, his research aims to provide evidence-based insights into how marine management and conservation can lead to equitable and sustainable outcomes. This work is by nature both interdisciplinary and collaborative, drawing on key theories and analytical approaches from disciplines such as economics, community ecology, and political science, and working alongside researchers and practitioners to co-develop salient research questions, approaches and dissemination pathways. His recent work includes global and regional assessments of the social and ecological impacts of marine conservation, justice and equity considerations in marine governance, and developing cost-effective approaches for monitoring socioecological systems in capacity-limited regions.
David holds an MSc and PhD from the Centre of Resource Management and Environmental Studies, University of the West Indies, Barbados. His post-graduate career included two years as a Luc Hoffmann Fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC; 2014-2016) and a David H. Smith Conservation fellowship (2016-2018) based at George Mason University and Conservation International.
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