The 9 Stages of a Community Conservation Project

Our community-based model is comprised of nine social stages. The stages progress as follows:

1. Initial discussions with community leaders and elders about the significance of their natural resources and realistic exploration of benefits that could be gained from conservation when voluntary and participatory (how rare are the species found here? what resources are currently being used by the community? is ecotourism possible? are organic agriculture methods an option in this area?)

2. Informal relationship-building in the community

3. Planning and executing participatory education (such as trainings and workshops)

4. The emergence of local conservation leaders (who often appear though the process of doing the trainings and workshops)

5. These local conservation leaders invoke support from fellow villagers (often, the majority of the village will support the effort)

6. Co-creation of a formal infrastructure and plans (examples: a community forestry area, or a new wildlife sanctuary where ecotourism replaces lost income from resource extraction)

7. The success of the new activities and lessons learned in the initial village spread through local networks of communication (e.g., hearsay; printed information from enlightened schoolchildren to their kin; inviting neighboring communities to visit the project; seminars and public events; informal and formal visits from target community members to other villages)

8. Interest in launching similar projects spreads “horizontally” from the target village to other communities

9. Interest then spreads “vertically” through relationship-building, education, lobbying, and the desire to reproduce the project’s positive results for both the target species/habitats and the local communities (e.g., through governmental, non-governmental, regional, and international entities)

The 9 Stages of a Successful Community Conservation Project: Infographic

Find more useful tools for conservation practitioners on our resources page.

These 9 stages are paraphrased from “Preserving Biodiversity and Ecosystems: Catalyzing Conservation Contagion” written by our founder Rob Horwich and several of his colleagues:

Robert H. Horwich, Jonathan Lyon, Arnab Bose and Clara B. Jones (March 30th 2012). Preserving Biodiversity and Ecosystems: Catalyzing Conservation Contagion, Deforestation Around the World, Paulo Moutinho, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/35435.

Update: The Search for Pygmy Hogs

Nepal, 2019

Dr. Teri Allendorf is currently in Nepal, searching for signs of the critically endangered pygmy hog and working with local mammalogists.

Local people have been finding small nests made by some mammal species, using fronds (which you can see in the photo above). Forest guards showed Dr. Allendorf the types of places they find these nests.

the critically endangered pgymy hog (Porcula salvania) – photo by John Singh

If signs of pygmy hogs living in this area are found, it will be an important discovery. Currently, pygmy hogs are thought only to remain in one limited area in India, with none remaining in Nepal. However, because the hogs are still found in adjacent landscapes in India and the correct habitat types exist in the study areas in Nepal, the nests are worth looking at closely.

Looking for nests
Pangolin burrow

So far, we haven’t found any definitive signs of pygmy hogs. However, while looking for pygmy hogs, we did see a nice pangolin burrow, which is a species of conservation concern. There are many awareness programs about pangolin conservation in Nepal, so hopefully they will be a conservation success story.

One of the perils of traveling in the field

The work in Nepal hasn’t always been easy… vehicles and sandy dry river beds don’t always mix well. Thanks to our partners Birendra and Dinesh for the help getting us out!

Hopefully more possible pygmy hog nests will be found so we can help identify whether they were made by pygmy hogs, or some other mammal. If they are made by pygmy hogs, it would be exciting indeed! But as of now, the team has seen no definitive signs in this part of Nepal yet.

Partners

Dr. Allendorf is meeting with many interesting and impactful people during the search for pygmy hogs, as she works closely with communities in Nepal.

Dr. Neupane and Dr. Allendorf

We’re so happy to partner with Dr. Dinesh Neupane, an independent researcher. His expertise in Nepal’s wildlife has been such a great contribution. See a short interview with Dinesh on Facebook.

Dr. Arjun Thapa and Birendra Mahato

We are also happy to be partnering with Dr. Arjun Thapa from Small Mammals Conservation and Research Foundation (SMCRF) and Birendra Mahato from Green Society Nepal.

Chairwoman Murti Devi Chaudhary

The team also had the pleasure to meet Murti Devi Chaudhary, chair of the Mahila Jhatkhanda Community Forest in Saptari District, where the pygmy hog search is taking place. Women’s community forestry groups have a strong presence in Nepal but often receive less support and recognition.

While in Nepal, Dr. Allendorf is also working to connect communities and explore the possibility of a community-conserved wildlife corridor in the area. This is a continuation of the work Dr. Allendorf and Community Conservation’s late Founder Rob Horwich started years ago.

Stay tuned for more about the corridor in our next update!