Table of Contents
ISRN Biodiversity
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 784701, 8 pages
Research Article

Using Better Management Thinking to Improve Conservation Effectiveness

1Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NZ, UK
2Department of Human Resources, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, UK
3Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Trinity, Jersey, Channel Islands, UK
4Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, Grannum Road, Vacoas, Mauritius

Received 29 April 2013; Accepted 30 May 2013

Academic Editors: A. Chistoserdov and D. Schmeller

Copyright © 2013 Simon A. Black et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The current paradigm for effective management in biodiversity conservation programmes is dominated by three broad streams of thinking: (i) traditional “command-and-control” approaches which are commonly observed in, but are not exclusive to, bureaucratic government-administered conservation, (ii) more recent notions of “adaptive management,” and (iii) emerging “good practice” management frameworks for conservation. Other variations on these themes suggested by the literature tend to endorse additions or enhancement to one or more of these approaches. We argue that instead a more fundamental alternative approach to conservation management is required, based on “systems thinking.” The systems thinking approach should encompass (i) an understanding of natural systems, (ii) a sense of how human behaviour is influenced, (iii) an understanding of how knowledge should inform decision-making and problem solving, and (iv) an approach based on an understanding of variation in natural systems. Our argument is that the current paradigms of conservation management fail to address these four fundamentals and therefore do not represent the most effective way to manage conservation programmes. We suggest that the challenge for the conservation community is so great that conservation managers should seriously consider better ways of designing and managing programmes, setting goals, making decisions, and encouraging learning and improvement.