Community Engagement

Principles and training modules for successfully engaging local communities in conservation.

In the 2017 Bishkek Declaration, the snow leopard range countries affirm their understanding “that the conservation of the snow leopard must be achieved by securing the involvement, livelihoods, and balanced development of human communities who share the habitat, striving to reconcile economic growth with environmental sustainability.”

On this basis, the GSLEP Steering Committee has adopted a set of policy recommendations regarding Community-based conservation. One of them is to “train at least 500 leaders and field staff from protected areas and NGOs, and community champions in conservation practices such as the PARTNERS Principles for community-based conservation.”

The PARTNERS Principles for Community-Based Conservation (Charudutt Mishra / Snow Leopard Trust, 2016) provide a framework for successfully and ethically engaging with local communities for biodiversity conservation.

This set of eight principles is based on learnings from over 20 years of experience in working with communities in the mountains of South and Central Asia to save the endangered snow leopard and its habitat.

These principles are described by the acronym PARTNERS, because the notion of a genuine, respectful partnership with local communities to effect conservation lies at their very heart. The PARTNERS Principles, a blend of the practical and the ethical, are born out of the realization that one size does not fit all, and that even within the same landscape, conservation challenges and opportunities can vary between one community and the next, and often even within villages or families.

The PARTNERS Principles include:

1) Relationship-building through the sustained and long-term Presence of conservationists amidst the local community

2) The Aptness of specific community-based interventions with respect to addressing the main threats to biodiversity, the underlying science, the local culture, socio-economics, the available or potential social capital, and the value of multi-faceted program

3) A relationship that views the community with dignity and Respect, and interactions based on beneficence and non-malfeasance

4) High Transparency in interactions with local communities with truthful and open communication regarding each other’s interests, and visible equitability in program benefits to community members

5) Integrative Negotiations with local communities and interventions based on formal agreements and conservation linkages

6) The ability to view problems, constraints and opportunities from the community’s perspective with a high level of Empathy

7) The ability to adaptively improve the programs and address emerging problems and opportunities with a high level of Responsiveness and creativity.

8) Strategic support to increase the resilience and reach of community-based conservation efforts through partnerships with governments in management planning and implementation, and policy and legal support.

These principles have been developed in the context of snow leopard conservation, but with contextual adaptations, their relevance for applied ecologists and conservation practitioners is universal.

A team of social scientists has developed a training module for practitioners based on the PARTNERS Principles. Both the book and the training module are available for download.

Tools and Training:

The PARTNERS Principles for Community-Based Conservation

PDF, 2.4 MB

PARTNERS Principles Training Module

PARTNERS Principles Training Refresher