Conservation conflicts: behavioural threats, frames, and intervention recommendations

Zachary Baynham-Herd, Stephen Redpath, Nils Bunnefeld, Thomas Molony, Aidan Keane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


Conservation conflicts are widespread and are damaging for biodiversity, livelihoods and human well being. Conflict management often occurs through interventions targeting human behaviour. Conservation interventions are thought to be made more effective if underpinned by evidence and a Theory of Change – a logical argument outlining the steps required to achieve goals. However, for conservation conflicts, the evidence and logic supporting different types of interventions has received little attention. Using conflict-related keywords, we reviewed trends in behavioural intervention recommendations across conflict contexts globally, as published in peer-reviewed literature. We developed typologies for conflict behaviours, intervention recommendations, and conflict frames and identified associations between them and other geographical variables using Pearson’s Chi-squared tests of independence. Analysing 100 recent articles, we found that technical interventions (recommended in 38% of articles) are significantly associated with conflicts involving wildlife control and the human-wildlife conflict frame. Enforcement-based interventions (54% of articles) are significantly associated with conflicts over illegal resource use, while stakeholder-based interventions (37% of articles) are associated with the human-human conflict frame and very highly developed countries. Only 10% of articles offered ‘strong’ evidence from the published scientific literature justifying recommendations, and only 15% outlined Theories of Change. We suggest that intervention recommendations are likely influenced by authors’ perceptions of the social basis of conflicts, and possibly also by disciplinary silos.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-188
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Conservation
Early online date19 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

We would like to thank the Associate Editor, Dr Maas and three anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback, as well as Dr Matt Bell for his early input into this study.


  • human-wildlife
  • conflict
  • interventions
  • behavioural change
  • evidence


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