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Implementing the 'Keep it Wild' Principle in Wildlife Conservation Projects

To learn more about Project Planning for Wildlife Conservation, take a look at our expert led course by clicking here.


Wildlife conservation projects are essential for preserving biodiversity and maintaining ecological balance. One of the core principles guiding these projects, as outlined by WildTeam's "Project Planning for Wildlife Conservation" best practice guide, is the "Keep it Wild" principle. This principle ensures that the primary focus of conservation efforts remains on achieving a positive impact on wildlife rather than getting sidetracked by secondary benefits. Implementing this principle effectively requires a clear understanding of its purpose and practical application within the context of conservation projects.


The Purpose of the 'Keep it Wild' Principle

The "Keep it Wild" principle emphasises that the central goal of any conservation project should be the improvement of wildlife status. While conservation projects often have ancillary benefits for human communities—such as improved ecosystem services like clean water and air—the main focus must always remain on the conservation impact. This principle is crucial because it maintains the integrity and core mission of conservation efforts, ensuring that resources and strategies are directed toward tangible improvements in biodiversity.


Bird on a tree


Practical Application of 'Keep it Wild'

To apply the "Keep it Wild" principle, conservation teams must ensure that all their activities are directly linked to enhancing the status of biodiversity targets. This linkage can be achieved through the creation of a planned change diagram, a tool that maps out the series of actions and their expected results, ultimately leading to improved wildlife status.


For instance, a project aiming to conserve a specific species, like the jaguar, would outline activities such as habitat protection, anti-poaching patrols, and community education about the importance of jaguars. Each of these activities would be explicitly connected to the overall goal of improving the jaguar population. This systematic approach helps in maintaining a clear focus on the primary conservation goals.


Case Study: Mangrove Forest Conservation

An illustrative example of the "Keep it Wild" principle in action can be seen in mangrove forest conservation projects. Mangroves are crucial for both biodiversity and local communities, providing habitat for various species and protecting coastal areas from erosion. A project focused on conserving mangrove forests would prioritise activities that directly benefit the mangroves and their associated species.


Activities might include reforestation of degraded mangrove areas, creating protected zones to prevent logging, and conducting research on the health of mangrove ecosystems. While these activities might also provide benefits like enhanced fish stocks for local fisheries and improved storm protection for coastal communities, the primary objective remains the restoration and preservation of the mangrove forests.


Ensuring Long-term Success

Sustaining the impact of conservation projects is another critical aspect of the "Keep it Wild" principle. This involves planning for the longevity of conservation efforts beyond the project's initial timeline. For example, a project may establish community-led conservation groups that continue monitoring and protecting biodiversity targets after the project's formal end.


Moreover, integrating conservation goals into local and national policies can help ensure that wildlife protection remains a priority. By embedding conservation principles into broader governance frameworks, projects can achieve a lasting impact.


Challenges and Solutions

One of the challenges in implementing the "Keep it Wild" principle is balancing the immediate needs of local communities with long-term conservation goals. In some cases, short-term economic pressures can lead to activities that conflict with conservation efforts. Addressing this requires careful planning and engagement with local stakeholders to develop sustainable alternatives that align with conservation objectives.


Another challenge is securing adequate funding focused specifically on conservation impacts rather than broader development goals. Conservation organisations can overcome this by clearly demonstrating the direct benefits of their projects to wildlife and by building strong, evidence-based cases for the necessity of targeted conservation funding.


Conclusion

The "Keep it Wild" principle is a foundational element of effective wildlife conservation projects. By maintaining a clear focus on improving the status of biodiversity targets, conservationists can ensure that their efforts lead to significant, lasting impacts. Implementing this principle requires careful planning, clear linkage of activities to conservation goals, and sustained engagement with stakeholders. Through these efforts, conservation projects can successfully preserve and enhance the natural world for future generations.


To learn more about Project Planning for Wildlife Conservation, take a look at our expert led course by clicking here.

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