The Importance of People, Institutions, and Resources in Large-Scale Conservation

  • Susan G. ClarkEmail author
  • Aaron M. Hohl
  • Catherine H. Picard
Part of the Springer Series on Environmental Management book series (SSEM)


Large-scale conservation in the common interest requires that people be clear about the nature of the problems they face, the utility of the theory or assumptions they employ, and the features of the situation they try to manage. This chapter introduces ideas and language for realistically conceptualizing problems in large-scale conservation, and it presents a framework for making sense of the human as well as biophysical dimensions in natural resource management. Three types of problems are described—technical (ordinary), governance (political), and constitutive (cultural); too often in large-scale conservation governance and constitutive problems are overlooked, misconstrued, or inadequately heeded. Large-scale conservation also requires integrating information into a rational, yet practical, framework for decision making. The framework presented here to understand and carry out the integration task can be most simply stated as “humans seek values through institutions using and affecting resources.” These four vital elements of management and policy making—humans, values, institutions, and resources—all of which are open for empirical, systematic study, are described. Skillful application of this three-level problem typology and framework can enable practitioners to analyze the full suite of problems and develop realistic solutions.


Large-scale conservation Values Institutions Resources Human behavior Technical problems Governance problems Constitutive problems Framework 


  1. Ascher W (2009) Bringing in the future: strategies for farsightedness and sustainability in developing countries. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bell W (1997) Foundations of future studies: human science for a new era. Transaction, New BrunswickGoogle Scholar
  3. Berger PL, Thomas L (1966) The social construction of reality: a treatise in the sociology of knowledge. Doubleday, Garden CityGoogle Scholar
  4. Berkes F, Folke C (eds) (1998) Linking social and ecological systems: management practices and social mechanisms for building resilience. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  5. Brown JS (2001) Ngongas and ecology: on having a worldview. Oikos 94(1):6–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chamberlain EC, Rutherford MB, Gibeau ML (2012) Human perspectives and conservation of grizzly bears in Banff National Park, Canada. Conserv Biol 26(3):420–431CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cherney DN, Bond A, Clark S (2009) Understanding patterns of human interaction of decision making: an initial map of Podocarpus National Park, Ecuador. J Sustain For 28(6/7):694–711CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clark S (2002) The policy process: a practical guide for natural resource professionals. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  9. Clark S (2008) Ensuring greater Yellowstone’s future: choices for leaders and citizens. Yale University Press, New HavenCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clark SG, Wallace RL (2013) Interdisciplinary environmental leadership: learning and teaching integrated problem solving. In: Gallagher DR (ed) Environmental leadership: a reference handbook. Sage, Thousand Oaks, pp 420–429Google Scholar
  11. Collins SL, Carpenter SR, Swinton SM, Orenstein DE, Childers DL, Gragson TL, Grimm NB et al (2010) An integrated conceptual framework for long-term social–ecological research. Front Ecol Environ 9(6):351–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cortner H, Moote MA (1999) The politics of ecosystem management. Island Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  13. Fernandez-Gimenez ME, Ballard HL, Sturtevant VE (2008) Adaptive management and social learning in collaborative and community-based monitoring: a study of five community-based forestry organizations in the western USA. Ecol Soc 13(2):4. Google Scholar
  14. Folke C, Carpenter S, Elmqvist T, Gunderson L, Holling CS, Walker B (2002) Resilience and sustainable development: building adaptive capacity in a world of transformations. Ambio 31(5):437–440Google Scholar
  15. Folke C, Hahn T, Olsson P, Norberg J (2005) Adaptive governance of social-ecological systems. Annu Rev Environ Resour 30:441–473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Haas PM (1992) Epistemic communities and international policy coordination: introduction. Int Organ 46(1):1–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kuhn TS (1970) The structure of scientific revolutions, 2nd edn. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  18. Lasswell HD (1971) A pre-view of policy sciences. American Elsevier, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. Lundqvist LJ (2004) Integrating Swedish water resource management: a multi-level governance trilemma. Local Environ 9(5):413–424CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. May R (1991) The cry for myth, 1st edn. Norton, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Mazur KE, Asah S (2013) Clarifying standpoints in the gray wolf recovery conflict: procuring management and policy forethought. Biol Conserv 167:79–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ostrom E (2005) Understanding institutional diversity. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  23. Ostrom E (2011) Background on the institutional analysis and development framework. Policy Stud J 39(1):7–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Patai R (1972) Myth and modern man. Prentice-Hall, Englewood CliffsGoogle Scholar
  25. Picard C (2010) The promise and peril of large-scale conservation: an appraisal of the Selous Niassa Wildlife Corridor. Dissertation, Yale UniversityGoogle Scholar
  26. Raymond CM, Singh GG, Benessaiah K, Bernhardt JR, Levine J, Nelson H, Terner NJ, Norton B, Tam J, Chan KMA (2013) Ecosystem services and beyond: using multiple metaphors to understand human-environment relationships. BioSience 63(7):536–546CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rocheport DA, Cobb RW (1990) Problem definition: an emerging perspective. University Press of Kansas, LawrenceGoogle Scholar
  28. Schein EH (1990) Organizational culture. Am Psychol 45(2):109–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Senge P (1990) The fifth discipline. Doubleday, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  30. Steelman TA, DuMond ME (2009) Serving the common interest in US forest policy: a case study of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act. Environ Manage 43(3):396–410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Stoker G (1998) Governance as theory: five propositions. Int Soc Sci J 50(155):17–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Walker B, Holling CS, Carpenter SR, Kinzig A (2004) Resilience, adaptability and transformability in social-ecological systems. Ecol Soc 9(2):5. Scholar
  33. Westley FR, Tjornbo O, Schultz L, Olsson P, Folke C, Crona B, Bodin O (2013) A theory of transformative agency in linked social-ecological systems. Ecol Soc 18(3):1–16. doi:10.5751/ES-05072–180327Google Scholar
  34. Williams RM Jr (1970) American society. Knopf, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  35. Zavalloni M (1980) Values. In: Triandis HC, Brislin RW (eds) Social psychology. Handbook of cross-cultural psychology, vol 5. Allyn and Bacon, BostonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan G. Clark
    • 1
    Email author
  • Aaron M. Hohl
    • 2
  • Catherine H. Picard
    • 3
  1. 1.Yale School of Forestry and Environmental StudiesNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Department of Forestry and Wildland ResourcesHumboldt State UniversityArcataUSA
  3. 3.Tetra Tech/ARDBurlingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations