Impacts of nature conservation on human well-being: Evidence, implications, and priorities
Global policy initiatives and international conservation organizations have sought to emphasize and strengthen the link between the conservation of natural ecosystems and human development. While many indices have been developed to measure various human well-being domains of conservation intervention, the strength of evidence to support the effects, both positive and negative, of conservation on human well-being, is still unclear. Rigorous and comprehensive evidence is necessary to enable efficient, defensible and targeted decisions and investment in advancing goals for improved human well-being in conservation. We present a systematic map, a thematic synthesis that visually illustrates the extent and diversity of published and unpublished sources of evidence, of studies linking conservation interventions to human well-being. We identified over 1000+ relevant studies based upon a search of online databases, specialist websites, and key informants. Data were extracted on characteristics of the study, types of conservation interventions, and human well-being outcomes.
The map enables us to articulate pathways by which different interventions affect different aspects of human well-being, from income and basic materials to rights and equality. High incidences of evidence include studies measuring linkages between economic outcomes and protected areas; low incidences with little evidence were found for linkages between human health and conservation more broadly. Occurrence of evidence, however, does not indicate positive or negative impacts. Furthermore, the results will inform priorities by pinpointing knowledge gaps to guide future monitoring and evaluation efforts. In this presentation, we explore the value of the systematic map as a decision support tool and the implications of the existing evidence base and its key findings for different audiences, in particular, conservation and development non-governmental organizations, donor agencies, and researchers.