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Engaging local communities in tackling illegal wildlife trade: a synthesis of approaches and lessons for best practice

Dilys Roe, Francesca Booker

Journal article

At numerous international policy forums, governments from a wide range of countries have made commitments to supporting community engagement as part of their efforts to tackling international illegal wildlife trade (IWT). Despite this, the major focus of anti‐IWT strategies to date has been on law enforcement. There is no blueprint approach to community engagement and thus uncertainty on the part of the designers and implementers of initiatives intended to tackle IWT as to how best to proceed.

In this paper we provide a synthesis of existing approaches to community engagement to tackle international IWT and review the evidence on their effectiveness. The synthesis illustrates the wide range of different community engagement approaches that have been utilized to date and could be explored by others. But it also highlights the lack of regular, robust monitoring of such initiatives. The dearth of evidence on effectiveness of community‐based strategies to tackle IWT may not be any worse than the evidence on effectiveness of other approaches. Nevertheless, it presents a major conceptual and technical barrier to the uptake of community engagement approaches as well as hampering efforts to encourage national governments to implement the commitments they made through the high‐level policy forums.

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Publication information

  • External: X00208
  • Published: Apr 2019 - Conservation Science and Practice
  • Theme: Biodiversity
  • Language: English

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Roe D, Booker F (2019) Engaging local communities in tackling illegal wildlife trade: A synthesis of approaches and lessons for best practice. Conservation Science and Practice. e26. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/csp2.26

Project information

Since mid-2014, IIED has co-organised a series of events to highlight the importance of local communities in efforts to tackle illegal wildlife trade, and the impact of heavy-handed approaches to law enforcement on these communities and on their incentives to engage in conservation.

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