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Special Issue "Human Dimensions of Conservation Research and Practice"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2021) | Viewed by 2084

Special Issue Editors

Tour du Valat Institute, 13200 Arles, France
Interests: values and perceptions; environmental governance; natural resource management
Ms. Sabina Jehan Khan
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor Assistant
Department of Environmental Politics, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
Interests: environmental governance; community-based natural resource management

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

While there has been a plethora of high-profile global initiatives aimed at biodiversity conservation, a recurring conclusion is that conservation is essentially operationalised best at the local scale. This Special Issue aims to contribute to conservation impact by featuring case studies of localised conservation initiatives. It will showcase “what works (or does not work) in conservation and why” and thereby, provide a resource of ideas for those working at the frontlines. It will also direct the attention of the academic community to research topics that can create more effective and, therefore, sustainable efforts in the future.

This Special Issue focusses on the human dimensions of conservation, spotlighting case studies of localised initiatives which have substantially integrated human well-being outcomes within their design. This means they address social phenomena, (e.g., governance, politics, culture, demographics, socioeconomics), social processes (e.g., social organization, decision-making and local development) or individual attributes (e.g., values, beliefs, knowledge, motivations) (Bennett et al. 2017). These aspects of sustainable governance are integral to informing “transformative change” agendas which are necessary to ensure sustainable nature–society relationships in the future.

The published case studies should have substantial and rigorous application of knowledge, theory and methodologies from classic social science disciplines, applied social science disciplines or the arts and humanities (Bennett et al. 2017) and have an interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary design (Pooley et al. 2014). The case study approach usually includes a rich description of the ethnographic context. We ask that contributions supplement this with a critical analysis of empirical observations, conceptual frameworks and methodologies applied. This is a base which lends to a minimum level of generalisability and insight to practitioners on the usefulness and appropriateness of the study in other contexts.

Noting long-standing observations on the deficiency of peer-reviewed studies in the literature from periphery countries and the importance of sharing experiences to create more efficient conservation in the field, we would like to address this inequality in the geographic representativeness of published works. Therefore, we particularly welcome case studies on biodiversity hotspots and conservation priority areas such as the Afrotropical, Indomalayan, Neotropical (Di Marco et al. 2017) and Mediterranean regions, which are identified as understudied in the literature.

Some topics for consideration include:

  • Management of political risks and uncertainty
  • Justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (e.g., integrating use of multiple knowledge systems, engagement with Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities)
  • Using sustainable development agendas as vehicles for conservation (e.g., localisation of and managing trade-offs in the UN Sustainable Development Goals)
  • Reflections on conservation as a social practice and the science of sustainability, e.g., from the fields of science and technology studies (STS), public understanding of science (PUS), political ecology, etc.
  • Conceptualisations of sustainable human–nature relationships (e.g., managing human–wildlife conflicts, holistic socio-ecological approaches)


Bennett, N.J. et al. (2017). Conservation social science: understanding and integrating human dimensions to improve conservation. Biological Conservation, 205: 93-108.

Di Marco, M., Chapman, S., Althor, G., et al. (2017). Changing trends and persisting biases in three decades of conservation science. Global Ecology and Conservation, 10, 32-42.

Pooley, S.P., Mendelsohn, J.A. & Milner-Gulland, E.J. (2014). Hunting down the chimera of multiple disciplinarity in conservation science. Conservation Biology, 28: 22-32.

Dr. Lisa Ernoul
Guest Editor

Ms. Sabina Jehan Khan
Guest Editor Assistant

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • conservation planning
  • conservation social science
  • governance
  • interdisciplinarity
  • socio-ecological systems
  • sustainable development
  • sustainable management

Published Papers (1 paper)

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12 pages, 4946 KiB  
Context in Landscape Planning: Improving Conservation Outcomes by Identifying Social Values for a Flagship Species
Sustainability 2021, 13(12), 6827; - 16 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1588
Sustainable conservation planning depends on understanding local context including the way social values impact a landscape. Flamingos are used here as a flagship species to focus the social values of a broad range of people living in and working in the Camargue in [...] Read more.
Sustainable conservation planning depends on understanding local context including the way social values impact a landscape. Flamingos are used here as a flagship species to focus the social values of a broad range of people living in and working in the Camargue in France. A survey questionnaire (n = 87) was used to identify the range of ways in which people value the landscape and their perception of effectiveness of flamingo management strategies. Survey analysis was conducted through a multi-method approach, triangulating standard descriptive statistics, qualitative data analysis, and multivariate analysis applying numerical taxonomy. Applying numerical taxonomy allowed us to identify and define six social assemblages. Each assemblage had geographical characteristics with distinct values and perceptions in relation to management. The primary residence and geographic identity of the participants was defining, showing clear value differences from participants living in different parts of the delta. The participants most frequently agreed that flamingos contributed to the aesthetic, economic, biodiversity, and recreational values of the landscape. We show how identifying points of consensus and points in contest is necessary for navigating differences in values for conservation planning. This research shows the importance of the local social context in sustainably managing landscape change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Dimensions of Conservation Research and Practice)
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