Deakin University

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How conservation initiatives go to scale

journal contribution
posted on 2019-10-01, 00:00 authored by M Mills, M Bode, M B Mascia, R Weeks, S Gelcich, N Dudley, H Govan, Carla ArchibaldCarla Archibald, C Romero-de-Diego, M Holden, D Biggs, L Glew, R Naidoo, H P Possingham
Although a major portion of the planet’s land and sea is managed to conserve biodiversity, little is known about the extent, speed and patterns of adoption of conservation initiatives. We undertook a quantitative exploration of how area-based conservation initiatives go to scale by analysing the adoption of 22 widely recognized and diverse initiatives from across the globe. We use a standardized approach to compare the potential of different initiatives to reach scale. While our study is not exhaustive, our analyses reveal consistent patterns across a variety of initiatives: adoption of most initiatives (82% of our case studies) started slowly before rapidly going to scale. Consistent with diffusion of innovation theory, most initiatives exhibit slow–fast–slow (that is, sigmoidal) dynamics driven by interactions between existing and potential adopters. However, uptake rates and saturation points vary among the initiatives and across localities. Our models suggest that the uptake of most of our case studies is limited; over half of the initiatives will be taken up by <30% of their potential adopters. We also provide a methodology for quantitatively understanding the process of scaling. Our findings inform us how initiatives scale up to widespread adoption, which will facilitate forecasts of the future level of adoption of initiatives, and benchmark their extent and speed of adoption against those of our case studies.



Nature sustainability




935 - 940


Nature Publishing Group


London, Eng.





Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal