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Recognizing reflexivity among conservation practitioners.

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Kiik, Laur 
Catalano, Allison 
Hazenbosch, Mirjam 
Izquierdo-Tort, Santiago 


When deciding how to conserve biodiversity, practitioners navigate diverse missions, sometimes conflicting approaches, and uncertain trade-offs. These choices are based not only on evidence, funders' priorities, stakeholders' interests, and policies but also on practitioners' personal experiences, backgrounds, and values. Recent scholarly literature has called for greater "reflexivity" - an individual or group's ability to examine themselves in relation to their actions and interactions with others - in conservation science. But what role does reflexivity play in conservation practice? Here, we explore how self-reflection can shape how individuals and groups conserve nature. We provide examples of reflexivity in conservation practice by drawing on a year-long series of workshop discussions, online exchanges, conversations with ten experts, peer-reviewed and grey literature, and our own experiences. We find that reflexivity among practitioners spans individual and collective levels and informal and formal settings. Reflexivity may also encompass diverse themes, including practitioners' values, emotional struggles, social identities, training, cultural backgrounds, and experiences of success and failure. However, reflexive processes have limitations, dangers, and costs; both informal and institutionalized reflexivity requires allocation of limited time and resources, can be hard to put into practice, and alone cannot solve conservation challenges. Yet, when intentionally undertaken, reflexive processes might be integrated into adaptive management cycles at multiple points, helping conservationists and organizations better reach their goals. Reflexivity could also play a more transformative role in conservation, motivating practitioners to re-evaluate their goals and methods entirely. Ultimately, we highlight how reflexivity might help the conservation movement imagine and thus work towards a better world for wildlife, people, and the conservation sector itself. Article Impact statement: Conservationists' self-reflection on their values, background, and emotions shape conservation practice. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.



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Conserv Biol

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