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Understanding how and why conservation goes to scale

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Organizers: Arundhati Jagadish, Yifan He
Chairs: Arundhati Jagadish



Despite billions of dollars invested, conservation practitioners still struggle to match the scale of their initiatives with the ever-increasing scale of environmental problems. However, there are cases in which conservation initiatives “go viral” and achieve rapid or widespread adoption (Mills et al 2019), with the potential to transform the relationship between people and nature across large scales. Understanding how and why an initiative goes “viral” is essential to crafting policies and practices that are effective at multiple scales. Diffusion of innovation theory -- the study of how, why, and at what rate novel ideas and practices are adopted by individuals, groups, organizations or countries (Rogers, 2003; Wejnert, 2002) -- provides a novel lens through which to examine rates and patterns associated with establishment of conservation policies, programs, and practices (Mascia & Mills, 2018). Diffusion theory has been applied widely in many fields (e.g., agriculture, health, technology), but rarely by conservation researchers. This session will draw on case studies from around the world to provide novel insight into why conservation initiatives are adopted and the factors that shape rates and patterns of establishment.

We invite submissions from colleagues exploring the following questions using spatial and/or temporal modeling, ethnographic and other social science approaches. Papers might address the following questions (but aren’t limited to):

• What are the rates and patterns of adoption and spread of conservation initiatives around the world?
• How do the characteristics of the adopters (e.g., socioeconomic characteristics, position in social network) affect rates and patterns of adoption and spread of conservation initiatives?
• How do the characteristics of conservation initiatives (e.g., observability of conservation impacts, relative advantage) affect the rates and patterns of adoption and spread of conservation initiatives?
• How does the environmental, social, political, and economic context affect the rates and patterns and spread of conservation initiatives?

Mascia, M. B., & Mills, M. (2018). When conservation goes viral: The diffusion of innovative biodiversity conservation policies and practices. Conservation Letters, 11(3), 1–9.
Mills, M., Bode, M., Mascia, M. B., Weeks, R., Gelcich, S., Dudley, N., … Possingham, H. P. (2019). Modelling how conservation initiatives go to scale. Nature Sustainability, 2(October), 935–940.
Rogers, E. M. (2010). Diffusion of innovations. Simon and Schuster.
Wejnert, B. (2002). Integrating Models of Diffusion of Innovations: A Conceptual Framework. Annual Review of Sociology, 28(1), 297–326.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Introduction Arundhati Jagadish Conservation International 10 12:00 AM
Presenter Yifan He*, Conservation International, Christoph Nolte, Department of Earth & Environment, Boston University, Morena Mills, Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, Michael B. Mascia, Moore Center for Science, Conservation International, How do private land conservation initiatives in the U.S. spread across space and time? 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Arundhati Jagadish*, Conservation International, Morena Mills, Center for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, Michael B Mascia, Moore Center for Science, Conservation International , Alifereti Tawake, Council Chair, LMMA International Network, Hugh Govan, University of South Pacific, Sangeeta Mangubhai, Director, Fiji Country Program, WCS, Tanya O'Garra, Middlesex University UK, Margaret Tabunakawai-Vakalalabure, Coordinator, Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network, Exploring patterns and trends in the establishment of locally managed marine areas in the Pacific 15 12:00 AM

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