Conservation conflicts: Behavioural threats, frames, and intervention recommendations

The choice of conflict management interventions should be based on evidence of their effectiveness, but other factors such as the way a conflict is framed appear to play an important role.


Conservation conflicts are widespread and are damaging for biodiversity, livelihoods and human well-being. Conflict management often occurs through interventions targeting human behaviour. Conservation interventions are thought to be made more effective if underpinned by evidence and a Theory of Change – a logical argument outlining the steps required to achieve goals. However, for conservation conflicts, the evidence and logic supporting different types of interventions has received little attention. Using conflict-related keywords, we reviewed trends in behavioural intervention recommendations across conflict contexts globally, as published in peer-reviewed literature. We developed typologies for conflict behaviours, intervention recommendations, and conflict frames and identified associations between them and other geographical variables using Pearson’s Chi-squared tests of independence. Analysing 100 recent articles, we found that technical interventions (recommended in 38% of articles) are significantly associated with conflicts involving wildlife control and the human-wildlife conflict frame. Enforcement-based interventions (54% of articles) are significantly associated with conflicts over illegal resource use, while stakeholder-based interventions (37% of articles) are associated with the human-human conflict frame and very highly developed countries. Only 10% of articles offered “strong” evidence from the published scientific literature justifying recommendations, and only 15% outlined Theories of Change. We suggest that intervention recommendations are likely influenced by authors’ perceptions of the social basis of conflicts, and possibly also by disciplinary silos.

Citation & Full Text

Baynham-Herd, Z., Redpath, S., Bunnefeld, N., Molony, T., & Keane, A. (2018). Conservation conflicts: Behavioural threats, frames, and intervention recommendations. Biological Conservation, 222, 180–188.