Inclusive conservation and the Post-2020 Global
Biodiversity Framework: Tensions and prospects
Christopher M. Raymond,
*Miguel A. Cebria
Alberto Arroyo Schnell,
Barbara Battioni Romanelli,
Devin J. Goodson,
Dana N. Johnson,
Jan J. Kuiper,
Carena J. van Riper,
Peter H. Verburg,
and Magdalena M. Wiedermann
Helsinki Institute for Sustainability Science, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Ecosystems and Environment Research Program, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Department of Economics and Management, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Alnarp, Sweden
Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, University of Go
Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL USA
IUCN European Regional Ofﬁce, Brussels, Belgium
Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Hungarian Department of Biology and Ecology, Babes¸ -Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Lillehammer, Norway
Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3), Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), Barcelona, Spain
Estudis d’Economia i Empresa, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), Barcelona, Spain
School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
FRACTAL Collective, Madrid, Spain
Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany
Department of Geology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
The draft Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework commits to achievement of equity and justice outcomes
and represents a ‘‘relational turn’’ in how we understand inclusive conservation. Although ‘‘inclusivity’’ is
drawn on as a means to engage diverse stakeholders, widening the framing of inclusivity can create new ten-
sions with regard to how to manage protected areas. We ﬁrst offer a set of tensions that emerge in the light of
the relational turn in biodiversity conservation. Drawing on global case examples applying multiple methods
of inclusive conservation, we then demonstrate that, by actively engaging in the interdependent phases of
recognizing hybridity, enabling conditions for reﬂexivity and partnership building, tensions can not only be
acknowledged but softened and, in some cases, reframed when managing for biodiversity, equity, and jus-
tice goals. The results can improve stakeholder engagement in protected area management, ultimately sup-
porting better implementation of global biodiversity targets.
To achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
as well as the 2050 vision of the Convention for Biological Diver-
sity to ensure that biodiversity is conserved and restored (and
valued), area-based conservation will diversify in the 21st cen-
tury to deliver not only increased coverage across different ele-
ments of biodiversity but also inclusive and equitable gover-
The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity
Framework (First Draft)
has targets on the fair and equitable
sharing of nature’s beneﬁts (target 13) and ensuring equitable
and effective biodiversity decision-making (target 21). However,
the draft framework has been criticized for not foregrounding
local communities’ rights and agency in biodiversity manage-
ment and policy.
For example, the International Union for the
Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
and United Nations (UN) High
Commissioner for Human Rights
have encouraged the expan-
sion of targets to recognize and secure the rights of indigenous
peoples, women, and local communities to lands, territories,
and resources as well as rights to environmental information,
public participation, environmental justice, and inter-genera-
tional equity. It is thus timely to consider how protected area
management can widen its frame to include biodiversity conser-
vation, equity, and well-being goals through ‘‘inclusive conserva-
tion,’’ which seeks to recognize the plurality of values and visions
of multiple stakeholders. Inclusive conservation is grounded in
distributional justice regarding the fair allocation of beneﬁts
and burdens from ecosystem services production and
252 One Earth 5, March 18, 2022 ª2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc.
This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
consumption; procedural justice concerning transparent,
accountable, and participatory management of ecosystems;
and recognition justice that respects the different rights, identi-
ties, and ecosystem management practices in a given area.
Inclusive conservation builds on multiple approaches,
including (1) co-management and multi-centered conservation
where the emphasis is governed by, with, and/or for local and
(2) mosaic governance with an
emphasis on engagement of diverse actors and active citizen
groups within and across planning sectors to support multi-
functional landscape outcomes;
and (3) convivial conserva-
tion, which looks beyond nature and culture dichotomies to
establish visions, politics, and governance principles to pro-
mote social and ecological justice and long-lasting and open-
ended relationships with biota and ecologies.
oriented literature provides standards for the creation of legiti-
mate, equitable, and functional protected area governance ar-
rangements and processes for identifying, hearing, and
resolving conﬂicts and recognizing gender issues.
ing to this literature, protected areas need to encourage diver-
sity by including areas governed by multiple actors under
different arrangements or by recognizing and supporting per-
ceptions and values of stakeholders in the conserved territories
and outside of the system. Protected area governance needs to
enhance quality by respecting good governance principles like
legitimacy, performance, accountability, fairness, and rights. In
addition, protected area governance needs to be vital by being
responsive to changing contexts and needs; by organizing
timely responses to emerging environmental conditions, prob-
lems, and opportunities; and by being aware of socio-ecolog-
ical histories and being open to new ideas and solutions.
Although these standards are broadly supported, their opera-
tionalization is not straightforward. Efforts until now have
largely focused on examining the opportunities/positive as-
pects of inclusive conservation strategies while omitting anal-
ysis of the underpinning tensions that may arise if such strate-
gies are implemented. We deﬁne ‘‘tensions’’ as well-
intentioned but differing perspectives on protected area man-
agement that emerge when diverse groups are asked to elicit
and deliberate on visions for protected area management in
pursuit of managing different targets.
Tensions become more pronounced when studying different
management contexts. Conservation policies in Europe have
traditionally relied on natural resource management directives
(e.g., Birds and Habitats and Water Framework Directives) to
protect biodiversity in agricultural systems. Sustainable agricul-
ture approaches, such as high nature value farming, have been
encouraged, entailing low use of chemical inputs, low stocking
densities, and labor-intensive management practices.
Most of these farming systems in Europe are associated with a
long history of shaping and maintaining semi-natural habitats
of high biodiversity.
In contrast, protected area management,
which began in the United States, was strongly inﬂuenced by
the Wilderness movement, underpinned by values for ‘‘pristine’’
nature. This movement was paralleled by resource management
practices focused on wise use and sustainable yield driven by
utilitarian concerns (e.g., access to game, mining, and forest pro-
duction). Principles around ecosystem management and the
land ethic ensued, followed by an emphasis on complexity,
integrity, and interconnectedness of human and ecological sys-
tems across changing landscapes.
In this perspective, we contribute to the global discussion on
how to navigate biodiversity conservation, equity, and human
well-being outcomes in the context of protected area manage-
ment. We go beyond earlier work identifying the needs for inclu-
sive conservation by discussing tensions associated with
deﬁning land uses, managing values, integrating knowledge sys-
tems, and acknowledging power asymmetries that need to be
navigated to successfully operationalize inclusive conservation
in biodiversity conservation and protected area management.
We also offer insights into how to recognize, soften, and reframe
tensions to enable the consideration of biodiversity, equity, and
well-being goals in protected area management. Our perspec-
tive is informed by a 3-year effort to develop a new approach
for inclusive conservation of protected areas in Europe and the
Drawing on multi-method approaches, we
ﬁrst present an overview of different theoretical perspectives
on inclusive conservation. We then outline tensions associated
with inclusive conservation and illustrate their implications for
conservation with examples from protected area practice. We
ﬁnally offer some insights for managing such tensions as part
of the efforts to ensure better implementation of the Post-2020
Global Biodiversity Framework.
THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES ON INCLUSIVE
The concept of ‘‘inclusive conservation’’ has emerged to theorize
and operationalize equity concerns in biodiversity and protected
area management scholarship. Tallis and Lubchenco,
co-signatories, called for inclusive conservation to embrace
diverse voices in biodiversity conservation, including stronger
representation of scientists and practitioners from under-repre-
sented genders, cultures, and contexts, and advancing and
sharing knowledge across disciplines. The debate has
expanded through forums such as the Inter-governmental Sci-
ence-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
(IPBES) Values Assessment and Nature’s Future Framework
to consider the voices and values of not only technical experts
but also a range of Indigenous and local knowledge systems
and their diverse values of nature.
Also, recent perspectives
call for a pluralistic lens on the conceptualization of biodiver-
including consideration of biodiversity through the array
of ways in which humans live and experience nature.
been established that inclusive conservation supports conserva-
tion effectiveness and emphasizes the role of morality in estab-
lishing trust between stakeholders, which can explain perceived
inclusivity in protected area decisions.
A review of 165 pro-
tected areas and 171 published papers found that, overall, bene-
ﬁcial conservation outcomes were more likely to be achieved
when protected areas adopted co-management regimens,
engaged a diversity of local actors, reduced economic inequal-
ities, and maintained cultural and livelihood outcomes.
Over the past 5 years, the scope of inclusive conservation in
academia has been widened in response to the ‘‘relational
This turn is characterized by the adoption of relational
ontologies that seek to overcome the nature/culture divide
and other dualisms (e.g., mind/matter, subjectivity/objectivity,
One Earth 5, March 18, 2022 253
acknowledge the ob-
server’s role in shaping knowledge;
respect a range of
non-instrumental, relational values;
and consider the interre-
lations between place-based and global drivers of change
the use of inter- and trans-disciplinary methods to understand
the iterative relations between social, ecological, and technolog-
It emphasizes place, contextualization, and
and challenges the researcher to interrogate
their assumptions through the process of reﬂexivity.
to create multi-level networks and collaborative relationships by
promoting equity and the central role of women as agents of pos-
itive change, reframing conservation action through reconcilia-
tion and redress, ensuring rights-based approaches to conser-
vation, and revitalizing customary and local institutions.
However, inclusive conservation also has its critics. Matulis
argued that the dominant views on inclusive con-
servation at that time assumed that intrinsic values can be
compatible with economic values. They cautioned that ‘‘deliber-
ative consensus politics conceals uneven power relations’’(p.
281) and overlooks the potential for competing publics and the
existence of marginal views. Other scholars question the useful-
ness of ‘‘inclusive’’ neoliberal conservation leading to the
commodiﬁcation of carbon and under-representation of struc-
and the potential for new protected areas
to discount the historical, social, and cultural contexts of the
A second critique concerns how stakeholder
participation linked to ’’inclusivity’’ can be punctual, isolated,
and often counterproductive, creating undesirable sustainability
such as the exclusion of key social actors from the
management of national parks because of selective participa-
Third, inclusive conservation has been criticized for depo-
liticizing conservation efforts. Turnhout et al.
the dynamics in knowledge co-production processes reinforce
unequal power relations and inhibit societal transformation.
This is not only relevant to societal processes. The research pro-
cess itself is a power-laden process, where ‘‘mutually reinforcing
power structures, interests, needs and norms within the institu-
tions of global environmental change science obstruct rethinking
and reform’’ (p. 1).
Issues of power have raised important ques-
tions about what actors do to co-produce, how human agency is
conceptualized, how power relations are changed, and how im-
pacts are catalyzed through collaborative modes of knowledge
co-production, management, and governance.
TENSIONS ASSOCIATED WITH INCLUSIVE
Tension 1: Supporting area-based conservation versus
cross-boundary landscape management
The performance of protected areas under area-based manage-
ment strategies assigns importance to the relation between the
environmental qualities of a protected area or network of pro-
tected areas and their translation into ecosystem services, their
relevance for overall conservation targets, and their effective-
Interest in system-wide connectivity has led to substan-
tial research and discussions about whether to devote efforts to
stricter area-focused conservation versus cross-boundary and
cross-scale management. The latter accounts for ecosystem
and social dynamics across sectors, landscapes, and seascapes
in an interconnected and tightly coupled world (sensu
tected areas also inﬂuence and are inﬂuenced by neighboring
land uses, which, by necessity, extends the deﬁnition of who is
a stakeholder and what is at stake.
Protected areas are often
short of the personnel and ﬁnancial resources required for effec-
Aligning management with adjacent land
uses (e.g., grazing needs and rearing livestock) as mosaic conser-
can bring management operations to economically
feasible scales. Beyond the near hinterland, protected areas and
their values are affected by tele-coupling and the increasing inﬂu-
ence of distant land owners, investors, and companies.
Boundaries and cross-boundary relations are not static. In situa-
tions of land use conﬂict or active transformation in response to
changing circumstances (socioeconomic, political, climate), pro-
tected area boundaries and regulations are often renegotiated,
as evidenced by protected area downgrading, downsizing, and
degazettement (PADDD) events.
An analysis of 36 countries
shows that PADDD may substantially decrease mean area-based
target (i.e., the current 30% target) achievement,
the need to focus on both sides of the protected area boundary
to ensure robust conservation outcomes.
To support resilient and robust conservation strategies for
conservation areas, inclusive conservation thus needs to
address not only what to protect but also how conservation
can be aligned with other land uses and associated individual
and societal interests. This is especially the case in small-scale,
heterogeneous landscapes where economic and political real-
ities are inﬂuenced by the larger region
and governance is
divided by multiple autonomous actors. Intra- and inter-country
and regional cooperation pathways for future conservation of
biodiversity are emerging,
but calls to manage biodiversity
are not matched by efforts to manage the interrelationships be-
tween biodiversity, natural resource use, and cultural diversity
and heritage for both biodiversity outcomes across scales.
Proactive work with adjusting and mainstreaming conservation
measures is essential to ensure multiple conservation outcomes,
and emerging research on the factors behind temporal dynamics
of protected areas
may provide input to locally grounded,
collaborative efforts to identify ﬂexible governance strategies.
A participatory resilience assessment approach,
oped by our team in the V€
astra Harg lo
¨vskogar nature reserve,
Sweden (Box 1), is helpful for managing the interconnections
and tension between interests and land uses across scales.
The approach was organized into four phases: (1) inventory
and process design; (2) problem and target formulation, identi-
fying strategy components; (3) articulating and describing strate-
gies; and (4) connecting strategies.
The process used inter-
views, surveys, workshops, and webinars and sought to foster
system knowledge (i.e., landscape components, drivers of
change, functional processes, and interrelated dynamics), target
knowledge (stakeholders’ subjective perceptions, goals, and as-
pirations), and transformative or operational knowledge (feasible
solutions, knowledge about mandates and roles of other actors,
and process skills).
The process engaged private landholders
involved in forestry, tourism, and livestock husbandry; the O
¨tland County Administration Board responsible for manage-
ment of the V€
astra Harg lo
¨vskogar nature reserve and the
county’s green infrastructure strategy; the farmers’ association
gathering interests of local landowners; and local village
254 One Earth 5, March 18, 2022
associations in V€
astra Harg (some of which also have responsi-
bilities for practical management of the nature reserve).
Our process enabled discussions between different actors in a
way that respected different and common interests and without
necessarily having to reach a broad consensus. We explored po-
tential shared interests in alternative strategies that support
biodiversity and are economically viable, ranging from certiﬁca-
tion schemes to eco-tourism initiatives. Although tensions be-
tween interests were not necessarily resolved, the process
opened up an additional platform to allow further collaboration
around common goals. The process contributed to the subse-
quent establishment of a local management council for the
astra Hargs lo
¨vskogar nature reserve that will meet biannually,
where the County Administrative Board’s interest in a regional
green infrastructure will meet and negotiate with interests of local
residents and landowners.
Tension 2: Recognizing versus reducing plurality in the
visions for and values of nature
Different views exist in the conservation sector about which of
the multiple values of nature should be managed and when.
Some groups suggest that the intrinsic values of nature,
including aspects of biotic diversity and variety, should be privi-
leged in protected area management and biodiversity conserva-
In contrast, others advance plurality as a
way to bring equity and justice to needs and wants of all legiti-
However, legal frameworks, skewed distri-
bution of ﬁnancial resources, and a lack of sensitivity to local cul-
tural norms can obscure or impede the consideration of
relational values of equity and justice in conservation planning.
The tension between recognizing versus reducing plurality be-
comes more complicated when eliciting the values of various
land management sectors and seeking to manage trade-offs
related to use of natural resources coupled with management
of native species.
found that, although
stakeholders from different land management sectors could bal-
ance diverse visions, including cultural heritage, economic
development, rural lifestyle, and providing space for wilderness
and managed/cultural landscapes, conﬂicts emerged more
frequently when seeking to balance management options asso-
ciated with each vision. Navigating plurality toward protected
area management may happen through spatial planning, using
Box 1. Managing for cross-boundary dynamics in the V€
arg conservation area, Sweden
astra Hargs Lo
¨vskogar nature reserve is a relatively small (345-hectare) protected area (IUCN category iv) in southern Swe-
den that preserves grasslands and ancient oak wood pastures, including a rich diversity of traditional grassland species. It is
located in a mosaic landscape deﬁned by more or less conspicuous edges and boundaries that simultaneously separate and con-
nect different land uses, interest, and activities. Dead wood maintained in the reserve provides a habitat to support regional pop-
ulations of pollinators as well as threatened species but also sparks concern of surrounding forest owners about outbreaks of
spruce bark beetle. To preserve the herb, insect, and bird species associated with species-rich grasslands, the old hay meadows
and pastures require frequent grazing, for which the reserve’s management relies on sheep from neighboring farms and the
farmers’ knowledge. This, in turn, requires economic and social viability of the countryside, promoted by public investments in
the nature reserve to increase recreation and tourism. Multi-actor governance arrangements can be helped by processes that sup-
port actors’ understanding of each others’ different perspectives and agencies. More information can be found at Panorama So-
One Earth 5, March 18, 2022 255
different parts of the landscape to represent different functions
and values, and, thus, providing space for sharing conﬂicting in-
terests. However, this approach is only viable when neighboring
uses of the landscape do not conﬂict or present undesirable
trade-offs that reduce the value of other parts of the landscape.
Methods applied in the Kromme Rijn and Utrechtse Heuvelrug
region of the Netherlands provide an example of how to repre-
sent different functions and values of protected areas (Box 2).
In this case, we asked residents to identify the trade-offs be-
tween diverse visions for protected area management, in addi-
tion to which areas were key for multi-functionality within the
landscape. We asked residents to share their individual visions
for the landscape based on a series of A3 cartoons in an arts-
based engagement tool named STREAMLINE,
which was fol-
lowed by a survey to deepen the understanding of how these
diverse visions could be managed. Four visions for protected
area management emerged from these efforts: (1) an inclusive
cultural landscape for sustainable living, a holistic approach to
landscape management with a strong belief in the possibility to
balance productivity and biodiversity goals; (2) a productivity-
oriented landscape, managing for economic productivity and ef-
ﬁciency; (3) an environmentally friendly landscape, supporting
biodiversity conservation, good quality of drinking water, and
climate mitigation; and (4) a peri-urban landscape, focusing on
maintaining and increasing attractiveness of the area for recrea-
The results highlighted the possibility for spatial planning to
contribute to accommodating (some of) the plurality of visions,
softening the tension. At the same time, the survey indicated
the overall high demands on the area for different functions,
directly resulting from the peri-urban character of the region. Re-
sults indicate that multi-functionality also comes with trade-offs,
which are acknowledged by the respondents. Recognizing the
plurality of visions and values does not exclude the need to pri-
oritize some values over others, possibly informed by national-
level policy targets or by an analysis of the trade-offs.
Tension 3: Incorporating local and experiential
knowledge into the dominant Western knowledge
Two distinct trajectories, being driven by complementary socie-
tal forces, are converging to underscore the need for inclusive
conservation practices. One trajectory is related to the develop-
ment of geographies of exclusion in protected area decision-
making, where power has shifted in the direction of local stake-
In reaction to the global tide of populism and rise of
regional powers, local stakeholders and nearby communities
are increasingly becoming stronger forces in protected area
Box 2. Managing for local residents’, conservation sectors’, and agricultural sectors’ interests in Kromme Rijn
The Utrechtse Heuvelrug National Park and adjacent Kromme Rijn region are located near one of the largest cities in the
Netherlands, Utrecht. The Park, founded in 2003, includes important forest areas and biodiversity values and is being co-managed
by several nature organizations together with private land owners. The Kromme Rijn area next to the Park (220 km
86,000 inhabitants) is a dynamic cultural landscape with different Dutch landscapes varying from mosaics with patched forests to
wide open pastures on the river banks. Multi-functionality is the norm and valued by local actors but can lead to strong trade-offs
between multiple functions, including wood harvesting, over-crowding of recreational areas, conﬂicting recreational activities
(exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic), and intensive agricultural use in the Kromme Rijn area, leading to high nitrogen loads
on the sensitive nature of the national park. More information can be found at Panorama Solutions.
256 One Earth 5, March 18, 2022
The second trajectory is that of a growing
global conservation framework closely tied to professional
expertise, scientiﬁc forums, and inter-governmental policy net-
works as well as legal and regulatory frameworks favoring glob-
ally applicable knowledge.
New techniques have been devel-
oped for integrating multiple forms of evidence and building a
more holistic understanding of conservation contexts, drawing
on tools like Bayesian belief networks, Q-methodology, and sce-
and processes for promoting dialogue within
and across local, Indigenous, and scientiﬁc knowledge sys-
As the plurality of knowledge perspectives considered
in protected area management widens, tensions inevitably
emerge around what counts as evidence and how this evidence
can be systematically collated and presented to inform conser-
Mechanisms and institutional arrangements exist for man-
aging power differentials in policy arenas and for recognizing
multiple forms of knowledge in conservation decision-mak-
At the local scale, co-production between scienti-
ﬁc and Indigenous knowledge is seen as a way to support
adaptation pathways for conservation at the place-speciﬁc
but often scientiﬁc investigations proceed in igno-
rance of contested histories of nation-state colonization.
Addressing tensions concerning how knowledge is repre-
sented and combined requires rethinking how issues of po-
wer, agency, trust, and partnership are considered in pro-
tected area management.
In Denali National Park, Alaska, United States (Box 3), we
tested and validated a set of methods for building trust and part-
nerships between diverse stakeholders and local commu-
In Denali, there are generally low but variable degrees
of trust instilled in federal agencies among stakeholders, span-
ning positive working relations to suspicion and distrust. This
variability in trust spills over to researchers and the information
generated from research projects and inﬂuences perceptions
of inclusivity in land management decision-making among
stakeholders, including residents, decision-makers, and scien-
Speciﬁcally, this case study sought to soften the tensions
between local and science-based knowledge systems by imple-
menting a mixed-method design that engaged decision-making
authorities and local residents in co-production of knowledge
with the research team. Early stages of our study drew on inter-
pretive methods to generate an in-depth understanding of the re-
gion, and these ﬁndings informed the development of generaliz-
able models and the application of an experimental design
employed in the ﬁnal stages of research. Informal meetings
with representatives from multiple sectors also helped in efforts
to come to know one another and build familiarity, trust, and
partnerships with local stakeholders, along with hiring a re-
spected local resident to support the project through its various
Box 3. Co-producing knowledge in Denali National Park to align local and regional conservation aspirations
Established in 1917, Denali National Park and Preserve is a protected area covering nearly 2.5 million hectares. Each year, Denali
National Park attracts around 600,000 visitors who come to see the charismatic wildlife, sub-arctic tundra, and vast, wild land-
scape that hosts the highest peak in North America, Mt. Denali (6,190 m). The population of communities adjacent to Denali nearly
doubles during peak tourism season (June–August) because of the inﬂux of seasonal employees, increasing from about 2,000 to
4,000 residents. Local stakeholders include Native Alaskan corporations, Alaska Native Tribal councils, a collection of distinct local
communities spanning up to 325 km apart, and federal, state, and local governments.
More information can be found at Pano-
One Earth 5, March 18, 2022 257
phases. Additionally, the research team formed an Executive
Committee comprised of local and regional stakeholders to pro-
vide stakeholder updates, interpret interim results, and advise
subsequent phases of study.
The multi-method approach adopted in this case helped to re-
frame conservation as a process of developing trust and partner-
ships, with outcomes tied to fairness in knowledge exchange be-
tween local residents and regional decision makers. Early in the
research process, we conducted focus groups in each of the
study communities and encouraged broad participation by co-
sponsoring the events with community-based organizations
and meeting at local venues such as a school library, Native
Tribal community center, and town hall. The focus groups were
usually part of regularly scheduled meetings and framed as an
opportunity to voice opinions on the future of the Denali region.
Our introductions to communities were extensive and critical to
set the tone for the engagement process and encourage open
discussion. We spent time characterizing ourselves and the po-
litical ideology behind our efforts, such as our history of research
working to connect voices of people to decision-making,
research that helps democratize policy-making, and sensitivity
to the portrayal of dissent. These introductions generated open
discussions about our trustworthiness as well as spirited stories
of frustration with the contested histories of relations with Denali
National Park and Preserve.
We also employed ‘‘fuzzy cogni-
tive mapping’’ exercises with individuals and groups of residents
to visualize perceptions of landscape conditions and change in
the region along with a regional household survey.
The project culminated in a social learning experiment that
engaged a group of 35 participants from 10 Denali communities
in a longitudinal, online discussion about landscape change.
Residents were engaged in three focus groups, a 5-week facili-
tated exchange, and ﬁnal webinar to understand how values shift
when diverse stakeholders are involved in deliberation. Comple-
mentary to recent work on reframing agency,
this case demon-
strates how frequent dialogue coupled with an iterative social
learning evaluation can promote convergence in values and pro-
tected area management visions across diverse stakeholder
Tension 4: Acknowledging power relations in
conservation: Seeking consensual outcomes versus
Plural and discordant voices are a constitutive part of current
development in conservation.
Various, non-exclusive options
exist for managing diverse voices and competing interests in
conﬂict-ridden conservation governance: (1) to build consensual
(2) to allow conﬂicts to surface dissenting visions
and un/under-represented voices,
and (3) to use dissent to
open up new possibilities for more transformative action in con-
Political ecologists have argued that
engaging dissent instead of permanently seeking for consensus
is a way of avoiding the suppression of marginal visions within
conservation and to open up innovative ways to tackle current
In other words, there is a
trade-off between representing dissent through the recognition
of conservation conﬂicts or looking for consensual outcomes
to appreciate the points of agreement and contextualize conﬂict
in ways that minimize harm.
Part of the process of allowing the emergence of dissent in
conservation practice implies opening up the possibility of diver-
gent understandings of what nature means for different actors
while seeking collective action in conservation governance. As
has been highlighted, ‘‘there are a multitude of natures and a
multitude of existing, possible or practical socio-natural relations
–and proper politicization of the environment needs to endorse
this heterogeneity fully’’ (p. 255).
In both cases, governance
processes inﬂuencing conservation targets (e.g., policies gov-
erning protected areas establishment, strategies determining
PADDD events) are embedded with power asymmetries
that need to ﬁrst be acknowledged and actively managed.
Increasing evidence shows that dominant power dynamics in
such processes and the diversity of interests that power holders
may have (e.g., environmental protection versus economic
development) raise important implications for conservation out-
Despite recognition of power dynamics, questions
remain about how to enable diverse voices to feel comfortable
while engaging in management strategies for protected areas
and how to allow issues of interest to emerge and be openly
shared toward encouraging transformative action.
In Sierra de Guadarrama National Park, Spain (Box 4), we
tested and applied multi-methods that enabled sharing of issues
of interest from diverse perspectives.
More speciﬁcally, we
explored how stakeholders participate and interact with the
park’s governance system to manage the tension between
seeking consensual outcomes and embracing dissent. Results
from 76 semi-structured interviews show that stakeholder partic-
ipation is shaped through a wide variety of formal and informal
mechanisms with distinct equity conditions and power distribu-
We then combined consensus and dissent-based ap-
proaches in an online participatory scenario planning exercise
in the National Park that involved decision-makers, researchers,
local users, and non-governmental organizations. Participants
discussed whether and how the area might continue to
contribute to the quality of life of those who currently enjoy its
ecosystem services, the advantages and disadvantages of the
envisioned future scenarios, and who would lose or gain in the
To navigate consensus and dissent as inherent aspects of
conservation, we asked stakeholders about their degree of pub-
lic participation in protected area management and then invited
them to create scenarios for the intensity of desired recreational
uses in the park. We also utilized a ‘‘barometer of power’’ using
the ‘‘Spatial Chat’’ software for the participants to deliberate on
their roles and power relations and invited participants to visu-
alize and draw stakeholders’ positions in relation to power in
conservation decision-making, in current and future scenarios
via the ‘‘Canva’’ digital platform. We also used a context-speciﬁc
graphical tool as a boundary object to explore different levels of
stakeholders’ willingness to engage in the strategies for pro-
tected area management they collectively deﬁned.
The participatory scenario planning process helped elicit
stakeholders’ roles, responsibilities, and abilities to inﬂuence de-
cision-making and reﬂect on how power relations could be arti-
culated in the future. This facilitated a better understanding of the
extent to which each stakeholder can participate and inﬂuence
decision-making in the context of their own positions in relation
258 One Earth 5, March 18, 2022
MANAGING TENSIONS THROUGH MULTI-LEVEL
This perspective has presented multi-method approaches for
identifying and, where possible, managing tensions inherent to
inclusive conservation in protected area management. Such ten-
sions are likely to surface when addressing biodiversity conser-
vation and equity targets in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity
Framework. Placing consideration of equity and justice on equal
footing with biodiversity requires a transformation of the pro-
cesses, structures, and outcomes underpinning research and
In this discussion, we focus on process re-
form. We demonstrate that tensions can, in many cases, be soft-
ened or reframed by not only surfacing hybridity in views but also
by enabling conditions for reﬂexivity, committing to reframing
tensions, and forging new partnerships in support of protected
area management. We also highlight a dynamic interplay across
phases: hybridity, which commits protected area managers to
acknowledging diverse visions and values for protected area
management the agency of other local actors; reﬂexivity, which
seeks to develop a collective understanding of protected area
management problems and creating space for shared and con-
ﬂicting values to be heard on an equal footing; and partnership
building, which connects diverse stakeholders in ways that forge
a better understanding of controversy through deeper explora-
tion of the problem or issue, particularly among groups adversely
affected by proposed protected area management strategies.
This stage ultimately may mean reframing problems to ﬁnd
new solution spaces (Figure 1).
Each case sought to recognize hybridity with respect to elicit-
ing and assessing different power relations, plural and dominant
values, and/or multiple knowledge systems but from different
starting points. This phase sought to empower diverse voices
and recognize the multiple ways of knowing and doing, aligning
with knowledge co-production principles discussed previously
in the sustainability literature.
It also explicitly acknowledges
difference, which is core to pluralistic governance.
astra Hargs Lo
¨vskogar nature reserve, the participatory resil-
ience assessment sought to articulate and describe the diverse
protected area management strategies of foresters, graziers,
and the County Administration Board applicable at different
scales of management. In contrast, in Denali, the fuzzy cognitive
mapping was able to create a visual representation of the
differing views on landscape conditions, which was followed
by a community discussion forum to encourage social learning
about place-based values and preferences for future landscape
conditions. The Kromme Rijn case employed STREAMLINE as a
way to visualize diverse visions for protected area management
Box 4. Dealing with power relations and diverse voices to foster social engagement and cooperation in Sierra de Guadarrama National
Sierra de Guadarrama National Park is part of a mountain system in central Spain (34,000 hectares), very close to Madrid (the coun-
try’s capital, over 6.5 million inhabitants), that features unique granite rock formations and Iberian endemic species. Local stake-
holders are engaged in diverse activities, such as extensive livestock farming, research, and environmental education. The Na-
tional Park is also heavily used for recreation and sports activities by visitors (almost 2.5 million visitors per year). There are
also multiple state administrations at different decision-making scales with governing competencies in the site, with two regional
administrations sharing the main legal authority in conservation decisions. The multiple and sometimes competing uses and values
create social tensions around how the park should be governed. More information can be found at Panorama Solutions.
One Earth 5, March 18, 2022 259
and the trade-offs between different landscape functions. In the
Sierra de Guadarrama case, we combined document analysis,
interviews, participatory scenario planning, and deliberative
spaces to show the wide variety of equity and power distribution
conditions under the protected area governance arrangements
as well as the narratives of consensus and dissent in relation to
current protected area management strategies. Despite the
different entry points, each case reveals that surfacing hybridity
alone does not manage tensions. Like several ropes knotted
tightly together, the solution space seems quite small, and it is
challenging to ﬁnd ways to unlock the different points of view
(Figure 1). For example, the four visions for protected area man-
agement that emerged from the Kromme Rijn engagements on
face value represent opposing ways of managing the landscape,
with seemingly no options to resolve the differing views.
When implementing the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Frame-
work, recognizing hybridity could involve
dtranslating, synthesizing, and applying multiple forms of
local and indigenous knowledge;
dcombining system knowledge, target knowledge, and
transformative or operational knowledge to address
cross-boundary management challenges; and
destablishing multiple engagement platforms, given that all
methods have their inherent biases and represent interests
in different ways.
Combining methods for surfacing hybridity with processes
that enabled conditions for reﬂexivity (being aware of one’s
own assumptions and biases and fostering learning
to the softening of tensions, which helped to contextualize the
points of conﬂict and dissensus that remained. In the V€
Harg case, the cross-scale tension was softened by developing
a collective understanding of different strategies for supporting
biodiversity and livelihoods at different scales of management.
The various uncertainties associated with each strategy (e.g.,
market demand and support for different products and the crit-
ical roles played by different actors, organizations, or associa-
tions) were critically reﬂected on as part of establishing connect-
ing points between strategies (stage 4) of the participatory
resilience assessment. In the Sierra de Guadarrama case, results
from the interviews informed a (virtual) place-based participatory
scenario workshop that enabled stakeholders to critically reﬂect
on the advantages and disadvantages of the envisioned future
scenarios and the various injustices that could result from
them. By combining methods for surfacing hybridity with pro-
cesses for enabling reﬂexivity, new options for partnership-
based protected area management emerged, softening tensions
as represented by the undoing of knots in ropes (Figure 1,
When implementing the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Frame-
work, softening tensions could involve
dteasing apart the underpinning assumptions and uncer-
tainties in visions for protected area management identi-
fying associated biases and power relations, and deter-
mining how each stakeholder can participate in and have
inﬂuence on protected area governance;
djointly identifying the multiple ways stakeholders relate and
connect (to open up for more common ground); and
dexplicitly acknowledging the losses for some stakeholders
if certain values are prioritized over others and ﬁnding
appropriate schemes for compensation or helping to adapt
to the new situation.
Building on previous work,
we suggest that multi- or
mixed-method research designs are needed to support the re-
framing of tensions. In the Denali case, researchers invested
time and resources in developing new partnerships and support-
ing the bidirectional ﬂow of knowledge and information
throughout the research process. The social learning forum
involved ﬁve weeks of knowledge exchange. This process
sought to validate different knowledge systems and to build trust
and a sense of empowerment that residents could form a collec-
tive voice on issues that mattered. Social learning was acknowl-
edged during the process. Points of conﬂict, although still pre-
sent, became hybridized in ways that complicated their
histories and invited reﬂexive re-positioning of previous dichot-
omies. Decision-makers across federal, state, and local levels
were eager for a wider application of the social learning assess-
ment and discussed options of incorporating content into school
curricula to sustain outcomes from the project and teach about
inclusive conservation in the context of protected area man-
When implementing the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Frame-
work, reframing tensions could involve
dfacilitating knowledge exchange, respecting rights, and
building partnerships and trust in an environment of care
demphasizing not only adaptability, biases, and power rela-
tions but also the development of processes that seek to
deﬁne, critically reﬂect on conﬂicts, and reframe existing
assumptions regarding who is responsible for protected
Some of the cases demonstrate that hybridity, reﬂexivity, and
partnership building inform each other and are not independent
in their action (Figure 1, phases 1–3). By actively engaging in the
interdependent phases of recognizing hybridity, enabling condi-
tions for reﬂexivity, and partnership building, tensions can not
only be acknowledged but also softened and, in some cases, re-
framed. In the latter phase, metaphorically speaking, ropes not
only unlock but become reconﬁgured through the development
of new partnerships and creating an environment for trust build-
ing (Figure 1). Negotiations at this part of the process need to be
approached with empathy, trust, and a commitment to within-
knowledge rather than cross-knowledge validation. Negotiation
and facilitation techniques can be used to reframe problems and
identify new solutions for transformative action. However,
shared identiﬁcation of solutions is sometimes not possible. In
these cases, the reframing turns from conﬂict resolution to
advancing parties’ causes by less destructive means.
In this perspective, we argued that tensions evident in inclusive
conservation approaches can be acknowledged, softened,
and, in some cases, reframed in protected area management
by employing multiple interlinked methods and processes of
260 One Earth 5, March 18, 2022
stakeholder engagement that invite stakeholders to critically
reﬂect on their values, visions, and positions and open grounds
for rethinking existing dichotomies and points of conﬂict. The
proposed actions for protected area governance presented in
this perspective do not obviate the need for difﬁcult protected
area management decisions that lead to gains and losses for
biodiversity and human well-being but, when employed system-
atically, provide grounds for improved understanding of chal-
lenges and the building of trust and new partnerships to achieve
global conservation targets. Although our arguments are salient
to distribution and procedural discussions about protected area
governance globally, we do not engage with wider issues of
recognition, including status equality, decolonialism, and the
cultural or institutional roots of discrimination pertaining to biodi-
versity conservation in the global south (see Martin et al.
overview). Future research could investigate how the multi-
method approach presented here for recognizing hybridity, soft-
ening tensions, and reframing tensions could be developed
further or upscaled in other contexts, including in the global
south and countries that are parties to the Convention of Biolog-
ENVISION was funded through the 2017–2018 Belmont Forum and Bio-
divERsA joint call for research proposals, under the BiodivScen ERA-Net CO-
FUND program, and with the support of the following national funders: the
Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (FORMAS, 2018-
02429); the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
(FKZ:01LC1806A), Germany; the Netherlands Organization for Scientiﬁc
Research (NWO); the National Science Foundation (1854767); a Cooperative
Figure 1. Process for identifying, softening,
and reframing tensions in inclusive
conservation of protected areas globally
One Earth 5, March 18, 2022 261
Agreement with the US National Park Service (P18AC00175); the University of
Illinois Campus Research Board (RB19119); and the Ministerio de Ciencia e In-
´n, Spain. E.O.-R. has been funded by Juan de la Cierva Incorporation
Fellowship of the Ministry of Science Innovation and Universities (IJCI-2017-
34334). I.R.-M. gratefully acknowledges support from grant RYC-2015-
17676 funded by MCIN/AEI/10.13039/501100011033 and by ‘‘ESF Investing
in your future.’’ J.J.K. received support from the Swedish Research Council
for Sustainable Development FORMAS (2019-01648). C.M.R. also received
support from the VIVA-PLAN project, funded by FORMAS (2018-00175).
DECLARATION OF INTERESTS
The authors declare no competing interests.
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