Assessing the effectiveness of community-based management strategies for biocultural conservation (COMBIOSERVE)


The COMBIOSERVE project consisted of a cross-country study (Mexico, Brazil, and Bolivia) to identify and analyse factors and processes contributing to the effectiveness of community conservation initiatives, and assist civil society organisations in co-enquiry and mutual learning by:

  • Analysing existing trajectories and future scenarios of land use and environmental change;
  • Examining livelihood dependence on natural resources and ecosystem services, and participants’ adaptive
  • Assessing cultural traditions, knowledge systems, and institutional arrangements, including incentives and
    policies from higher governance scales;
  • Identifying drivers, challenges and opportunities for conservation; and
  • Establishing a dedicated co-enquiry and advocacy approach.

The project resulted in several scientific publications, which you can find in the Publications section (e.g. Ruiz-Mallén et al., various years), and generated several recommendations for policy-makers in the EU, Mexico, Brazil and Bolivia, including:

  • Support collaboration between local communities and scientists to design successful strategies for adaptation to climate change and other environmental stressors that improve biodiversity conservation and contribute to maintain cultural diversity, in community-based conservation areas and beyond;
  • Develop full participatory mechanisms to include the needs and interests of the most vulnerable groups of people, living in areas of high biodiversity value, into climate change adaptation plans and protected area management;
  • Incorporate traditional and indigenous communities’ experience, observations, beliefs, and institutions (i.e. traditional ecological knowledge) in natural resource management decision-making to cope with perturbations;
  • Promote adaptive management approaches based on flexible institutional rules to deal with uncertainty, improve response to unexpected events, and promote resilience;
  • Enlarge national conservation policies to include areas of multiple uses by communities while respecting their natural resource management practices;
  • Create specific legal and financial means for the recognition and respect of self-regulated community-based conservation initiatives to improve rural and indigenous peoples’ wellbeing;
  • Respect indigenous peoples and local communities’ right to give or withhold their free, prior, informed consent before any conservation or climate change adaptation action is implemented in community areas or indigenous territories; and
  • Promote exchange of successful experiences on community-based conservation and resilience within host countries.


Project dates

 December 2011 - November 2014

Research area


  • Biodiversity Conservation
  • Community-Based Conservation
  • Protected Areas
  • Biosphere Reserves
  • Adaptation
  • Resilience

Team members

ICREA Research Professor
ICREA Research Professor
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