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In a conservation situation, stakeholders are any individual or group that may affect, or be affected by the conservation work. Stakeholders will be different for each situation. Engaging stakeholders is the process by which conservationists involve stakeholders in the conservation work.

In some cases, it will be necessary to engage with stakeholders to ensure that they have a meaningful say in any conservation work that may lead to substantial changes in their lives. For example, local fishers should be engaged with if the conservation work will affect their livelihoods by restricting their access to traditional fishing grounds.

To help achieve and sustain conservation impact, engaging stakeholders is also often needed to:

  • Improve the information base upon which the conservation strategy is created.

  • Access resources such as funds and skilled staff.

  • Acquire consent for, and/or active participation in the conservation work.

Engaging stakeholders, however, may require substantial time and resources. For example, engaging multiple stakeholders over 3 years of conservation work may involve paying for and organising many engagement events.

Engaging stakeholders may also risk harming those directly and indirectly involved. For example, engaging certain stakeholders may unintentionally increase the influence of large, politically powerful groups and further reduce the influence of smaller, marginalised groups. The purpose of this Stakeholder Engagement for Wildlife

Conservation best practice, therefore, is to help conservationists carry out the stakeholder engagement process as effectively and ethically as possible.

Front cover of Stakeholder Engagement for Wildlife Conservation best practice


This best practice can be used as a step-by-step guide to engaging any number or type of stakeholders, for any kind of conservation work. For example, it could be used to engage stakeholders for a project to manage a community forest, or for a project to lobby governments to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

This best practice can be used as a stand-alone approach, but is most effectively used in combination with the other best practices in the Wildlife Conservation Professional Series. In this series, the Project Management for Wildlife Conservation best practice provides the overall framework for carrying out a conservation project from start to finish. The Stakeholder Engagement for Wildlife Conservation best practice can be used, as needed, during any project phase.


The Stakeholder Engagement for Wildlife Conservation best practice provides guidance for engaging any kind of stakeholder for any type of conservation project.

This best practice begins with a set of overarching principles to guide the project team's overall approach for engaging stakeholders effectively and ethically. This best practice then provides guidance on carrying out each of the following steps in the engaging stakeholders process:

  • Selecting stakeholders, to help the project team select the right stakeholders to engage for their project.

  • Initiating the relationship, to help the project team assess stakeholder relationships and support for the project, make contact, and organise relationship-building and information-sharing events.

  • Clarifying the relationship, to help the project team carry out joint planning, establish roles, and document agreements.

  • Managing the relationship, to help the project team nurture relationships, manage progress of joint work, manage change in the relationship, and manage joint reporting.


  • The effect of the project on each stakeholder

  • The need of the project for each stakeholder

  • Stakeholder relationships

  • Stakeholder support for the project

Download the manual for a link to access this worksheet.

Scrrenshot of online conservation tool to help assess and manage stakeholders

Ready to take the next step? Join our expert-led online Stakeholder Engagement course.

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