A shared approach.


Different academics and organizations have developed their own ways of researching and monitoring conservation. Having a diversity of approaches is typically a good thing—different methods and frameworks can answer diverse conservation questions tailored to the needs of specific decision-makers. However, too many frameworks for monitoring and evaluation can hinder the development of a broad understanding on which interventions are most effective at delivering conservation outcomes.

A core part of the ACES collaborative is having a shared theory-based framework that underpins monitoring, evaluation, and learning approaches in conservation efforts across institutions. Having a shared theoretical approach allows for a diversity of research methods that can be tailored to specific needs based on context, while allowing insights to roll up into a broader understanding of community conservation.



Conceptual frameworks can help us organize how we see reality. In the context of community-based conservation, a conceptual framework can organize and show the existing scientific theory relevant to understanding community-based conservation, together with the theories of change that surround community-based conservation strategies.

Incorporating theory, we organized the Z-logic conceptual model around three distinct bodies of literature. The three “components” of the Z-logic model focus on:

Z1: collective action that leads to the establishment of community-based conservation (Ostrom 2000)

Z2: common-pool natural resource governance, and the resulting social and ecological impacts (Ostrom 1990)

Z3: the spread of successful community-based conservation (Rogers 2001, Wejnert, 2002)

The model is a foundation for our ACES learning questions, and will guide how data will be collected to form comparable information across different sites.

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This model implies that community-based conservation can support the management of resources – potentially emerging from an open access situation or replacing governmental or private governance systems. These community-based conservation systems shape human behavior and governance in ways that lead to ecological and social benefits. And finally, to achieve successful conservation outcomes, community-based conservation systems must go to scale.

Conceptual frameworks can help us organize how we see reality.

Learning Questions.

The ACES collaborative has identified learning questions to inform a strategic portfolio of projects that advance the evidence base for community-based conservation. Together, these questions can inform broad-scale decisions on where and how to invest in community conservation.

A set of ten priority questions were identified through workshops and engagement with community-based conservation experts, a review of the scientific evidence and literature, and collaboration with the core team. The questions reflect:

(1) relevance to the Z-logic conceptual model

(2) scientific importance, and

(3) practical relevance to field teams implementing community-based conservation interventions.

These priority learning questions were used to help guide the selection and development of learning projects currently underway.



How does governance at higher spatial scales (e.g., regional or national government policies) affect the likelihood of collective action to manage common pool resources?



What are the short-term or long-term social and ecological impacts of community-based conservation?

How do community-based conservation ecological or social outcomes vary over different levels of social (e.g., household, community) or ecological organization (e.g., species, community)?

What are the synergies and trade-offs between ecological and social outcomes of community-based conservation?

How does the governance of community-based conservation interventions influence ecological and social outcomes?



How do characteristics of the adopters affect rates and patterns of adoption/diffusion of community-based conservation?

How do the characteristics of community-based conservation affect the rates and patterns of community-based conservation adoption and diffusion?

How does the environmental, social, political and economic context affect the rates and patterns of community-based adoption or diffusion?



Where is community-based conservation happening around the world? What are the spatial locations and patterns? Trends over time? What are the characteristics of these community-based conservation systems?

What are the conditions under which monitoring and evaluation provides credible, salient and legitimate insights to decision-makers at different levels?