An organizational framework for effective conservation organizations

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There is a scarcity of studies on how to design conservation organizations to improve biodiversity outcomes. We use information from four conservation organizations (African Parks, Australian Wildlife Conservancy, Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, and Rewilding Argentina) to update and describe an organizational framework for effective conservation organizations. This framework includes (1) clear and shared proactive vision inspired by innovative on-site senior leadership; (2) high contextuality based on shared leadership, on-the-ground administrative autonomy, and practice-based learning; (3) outstanding and well-communicated conservation outcomes; (4) linkages across-scales to access varied types of resources (i.e. political, social and economic); and (5) long-term financial viability. All these attributes form a dynamic and self-reinforcing “virtuous cycle,” with each attribute being both cause and effect at different moments in time, though the whole process is jump-started by on-site senior leaders. We believe that our framework can help to identify key questions that will facilitate the design and assessment of private and public conservation organizations towards improved effectiveness.


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Jiménez, I, and X Basurto (2022). An organizational framework for effective conservation organizations. Biological Conservation, 267. pp. 109471–109471. 10.1016/j.biocon.2022.109471 Retrieved from

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Xavier Basurto

Truman and Nellie Semans/Alex Brown & Sons Associate Professor

I am interested in the fundamental question of how groups (human and non-human) can find ways to self-organize, cooperate, and engage in successful collective action for the benefit of the common good. To do this I strive to understand how the institutions (formal and informal rules and norms) that govern social behavior, interplay with biophysical variables to shape social-ecological systems. What kind of institutions are better able to govern complex-adaptive systems? and how can societies (large and small) develop robust institutions that provide enough flexibility for collective learning and adaptation over the long-term?

My academic and professional training is based on a deep conviction that it is through integrating different disciplinary perspectives and methods that we will be able to find solutions to challenging dilemmas in natural resources management, conservation, and environmental policy. Trained as a marine biologist, I completed a M.S in natural resources studying small-scale fisheries in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Realizing the need to bring social science theories into my work on common-pool resources sustainability, I earned an MPA and a Ph.D. in Management (with a minor in cultural anthropology) from the University of Arizona and under the supervision of Edella Schlager. Following I spent two years working with Elinor Ostrom, 2009 co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, at the Workshop for Political Theory and Policy Analysis of Indiana University. Methodologically, I am familiar with a variety of quantitative and qualitative approaches and formally trained to conduct Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA or more recently fsQCA), that allows among other things, systematic comparisons of middle range N sample sizes and address issues of multiple-causality.

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