Uncommon Dialogue: Dynamic Conservation in a Changing World

Stanford's Water in the West Program along with Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy and Conservation Pathways held an Uncommon Dialogue at Stanford University to discuss the opportunities and challenges to Dynamic Conservation. 

Dynamic Conservation represents a range of potential conservation practices that could be contrasted with geo-spatially fixed and permanent measures (such as traditional protected areas and conservation easements). It recognizes that change is inherent to ecosystems and integrates the dynamic nature of these systems into conservation. Dynamic conservation uses seasonal to long-term approaches, such as habitat enhancements, management prescriptions or restrictions or other interventions, to adaptively meet conservation needs that are impermanent in space and time. Seasonal, “pop-up” wetlands for migratory birds in California’s Central Valley are one prominent and recent example where flexibility in location and timing can improve conservation outcomes. 

Current “geo-spatially fixed and permanent” approaches to conservation are critical to meeting important outcomes and have helped protect many important ecosystems. Current approaches, however, cannot meet a variety of needs and desired outcomes.

Dialogue Goals:

  • Build shared understanding of dynamic conservation, including what it is, its importance in achieving outcomes that current approaches cannot, and its elements
  • Identify significant policy/legal/perceptual obstacles to implementation
  • Develop a shared strategy to advance the concept of dynamic conservation, especially with public agencies