K305 Alvar

Human dimensions approach to gaining support for biodiversity and large carnivores


Alistair Bath


Our human dimensions in wildlife resource management field has grown from its beginnings studying motivations of hunters and describing behaviors to applying theories and predicting behaviors. In fact, our research has become academically recognized and we could be criticized, like we use to say about biologists who studied only animals, that many HD researchers study people, and perhaps have forgotten that conservation is only achieved through working with people. HD research provides insights on wildlife issues to managers but managers require mechanisms to solve issues. In those rare cases where we choose to "engage" the public, our traditional tools often fail to get diverse interest groups to consensus and conflicts resolved. Perhaps "engaging the public" is not what we really need if we wish to achieve solutions, we in fact must build strong relationships and teams to solve todays wildlife challenges.
The applied human dimensions facilitated workshop approach (AHDFWA) continues to provide examples of success stories getting diverse interest groups to agree on controversial national large carnivore management plans in various parts of Europe. The AHDFWA builds relationships with all groups, encourages feedback from individual team members back to their constituencies and where employed for the last 25 years worldwide, 100% consensus has been reached by the author. I discuss the power of drawing images to illustrate a vision and taking the time to effectively move beyond "engagement" to a "committed relationship" of trust to achieve consensus and conservation successes. Other key components of the AHDFWA include strong feedback, clear, defined roles, discussions rules and a visual style of facilitation that inspires participants to work hard and find solutions.