How to be a competent locally based conservation practitioner

6 Oct

So I’m reading this book edited by David E Naugle about conservation and energy development, and up comes this list in chapter 12 about key traits for hiring competent locally based conservation practitioners for working with a local community on landscape-scale approaches to conservation. You must “be aligned with core [organizational] values like integrity and excellence, be composed, deal well with ambiguity, drive for results, be interpersonally savvy, learn on the fly, be partnership oriented, have patience, perseverance, and political savvy, size people up well, and be a strategic thinker.”

Fortunately for me I’m not a locally based conservation practitioner, because I feel like I do about half those things reasonably well on my best days. This list highlights how hard it is to put conservation into practice when you’re not just a biologist or a government person telling people what to do–you’re a part of the community, leading from behind, listening and staying put for years.

I imagined what it would be like if I were to go to my first community conservation meeting in a small Western town, up in the Rockies, with people already committed to conservation and ready to begin a partnership. What do you think, would it be effective to start by standing up and saying:

“Hi everyone, I’m an overeducated treehugging Easterner here to work on landscape conservation. I’m 20 years younger than you and I stink at hunting and fishing but I love backpacking and kayaking. The good news is, the other 99.999% of our DNA is the same, and I feel as deeply connected to the place I come from, the Florida Everglades, as you do to the Front Range. I don’t want anyone telling me what to do when I’m in the woods and I ache when the woods get hurt. I want that landscape to be there for my children and I want my children to enjoy it and see it as their landscape, conserved but not preserved. I like bacon for breakfast and have a hard time getting out of bed some mornings. I look forward to meeting you all and talking conservation around the conference tables and politics over coffee. Thanks.”


2 Responses to “How to be a competent locally based conservation practitioner”

  1. Dania Trespalacios October 28, 2011 at 11:50 pm #

    Well… we could start with mapping stand points…

    Are you actually going to a town in the Rockies? If so, I would suggest emailing Susan regularly, and asking for mentorship.


    • elizacava October 29, 2011 at 10:27 am #

      No, I’m not really going! But I’ve been thinking about community-based conservation a lot, and writing about it at work.

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