Book Review: Communities, Conservation & Livelihoods

An exploration of how communities around the world are tackling some of the biggest global challenges—the climate, the environment—as well as local conservation goals, all the while sustaining their livelihoods. 


Charles, A. (ed.). 2021. IUCN, Gland Switzerland and CCRN Halifax, Canada. with foreword by Kristen Walker Painemilla, Chair IUCN Commission on Environment, Economics and Social Policy, 132 pages, with maps, photos, figures, tables, and extensive references. ISBN: 978-2-8317-2096-8 (PDF)

Communities, Conservation and Livelihoods addresses key challenges that communities worldwide are facing; it is the result of a decade of collaborations and partnerships. The authors examine the motivations for communities to conserve, and what can be achieved in biodiversity and livelihoods. Editor Dr. Anthony Charles presents an array of stories from around the globe, looks at who makes decisions, how governance and power dynamics are handled, and the great importance of Indigenous realities and perspectives. Emphasizing a “systems” view, the overall conclusions recognize that society and nature are interrelated and that collective action in many cases can solve local environmental challenges without destroying livelihoods.

In every country, in urban neighborhoods and rural towns and villages, people are coming together to find solutions that sustain themselves and maintain, or restore, healthy local environments. Communities, Conservation and Livelihoods celebrates these efforts, literally thousands of them the world over, to resolve the essential challenges to habitat, wildlife and livelihoods.

The authors explore these themes and take us through a wide variety of community stories from many parts of the world, and show people working together for a common cause.

The book—which is downloadable at no charge—gathers up more than a decade of studies of communities, conservation and livelihoods through the Community Conservation Research Network, a global initiative that involves a wide range of Indigenous, academic, community and non-governmental organisations.

As we live through the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for collective action has never been greater. Although the stories of the book reflect experiences before COVID-19, within them are the ingredients of collective action that we need to move forward today.

“Indigenous peoples and local communities are, and remain, at the forefront of protecting the planet, and share with us a wealth of knowledge, experience and sustainable practices that the world desperately needs,” writes Kristen Walker Painemilla, Chair of IUCN-Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy. “I am pleased that CEESP is able to support the CCRN in celebrating and elevating these local community efforts through this new book. It brings together a decade of experience from across the globe and provides us with examples of community leadership, success and sustainable livelihoods in conservation, as well as highlighting existing and persistent challenges that communities face in a changing world.”

CEESP, the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy is a unique network of some 1,500 volunteers representing disciplines from biology and anthropology to economics, law, culture and Indigenous peoples. CCRN, the Community Conservation Research Network, is a global partnership of Indigenous, academic, community, governmental and nongovernmental partners focused on the links between environmental stewardship and sustainable livelihoods at a local level.

Banner image: Screenshot from the CCRN video promoting the book.