Is it just conservation? A typology of Indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ roles in conserving biodiversity

Neil M. Dawson, Brendan Coolsaet, Aditi Bhardwaj, Francesca Booker, David Brown, Bosco Lliso, Jacqueline Loos, Adrian Martin, Malena Oliva, Unai Pascual, Pasang Sherpa, Thomas Worsdell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As conservation initiatives expand in response to biodiversity loss, there remains limited understanding about what forms of governance and roles for different actors produce the best ecological outcomes. Indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ (IPs’ and LCs’) roles extend beyond participation to more equitable governance based on relative control and recognition of their values and institutions, but the relationship with conservation outcomes remains unclear. We review 648 empirical studies to develop a typology of IP and LC roles in governance and, for a subsample of 170, analyze relationships with reported ecological outcomes. The findings reveal that more equitable governance, based on equal partnership or primary control for IPs and LCs, are associated with significantly more positive ecological outcomes. This carries important implications, including for actions toward the Global Biodiversity Framework targets, suggesting a need to elevate the role of IPs and LCs to conservation leaders while respecting their rights and customary institutions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalOne Earth
Early online date11 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 May 2024


  • 30 × 30
  • Kunming Montreal global biodiversity Framework
  • community-based natural resource management
  • conservation effectiveness
  • decolonize
  • environmental justice
  • equitable governance
  • participation
  • protected areas
  • rights-based approaches

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