Convivial (literally: ‘living with’) conservation offers a new approach to understanding and practicing environmental conservation. It is a response to the so-called ‘Anthropocene conservation debate’, which has polarized conservationists around two contrasting positions.
The first, a self-styled ‘new conservation’, argues that conventional conservation approaches, grounded in creation of protected areas that separate humans and wildlife, is ineffective. They call instead for intensified market engagement to fund the production of ‘novel landscapes’ in which humans and nature coexist.
The second is a resurgence of longer standing ‘neoprotectionist’ traditions. Thoroughly denouncing new conservation, many neoprotectionists are becoming increasingly critical of the promise of market engagements altogether. Under the banners ‘half earth‘ or ‘nature needs half’, they instead place their faith in a dramatic expansion of strict protected areas to encompass at least 50% of the planet.
Both positions raise important points but ultimately fail to provide a convincing way forward. An alternative model is needed that goes beyond protected areas and faith in markets to incorporate the needs of humans and nonhumans alike within integrated landscapes. Convivial conservation is a response to this need.