Editor Olin (Gene) Myers Jr.
The implementation crisis in conservation planning: could “mental models” help?
Article first published online: 7 APR 2011
©2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Volume 4, Issue 3, pages 169–183, June/July 2011
How to Cite
Biggs, D., Abel, N., Knight, A. T., Leitch, A., Langston, A. and Ban, N. C. (2011), The implementation crisis in conservation planning: could “mental models” help?. Conservation Letters, 4: 169–183. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-263X.2011.00170.x
- Issue published online: 7 JUN 2011
- Article first published online: 7 APR 2011
- Accepted manuscript online: 4 MAR 2011 04:06AM EST
- Received , 25 September 2010, Accepted, 18 February 2011
- Mental models;
- conservation planning's implementation gap;
- social assessment;
- conflict resolution
Core to the planning–implementation gap in conservation is the failure to achieve the necessary shared vision and collaboration among typically diverse stakeholder groups to translate conservation assessments and plans into sustained on-ground outcomes for conservation. We suggest that a process of describing and sharing mental models—the cognitive frameworks that people use to interpret and understand the world—provides promising and as yet underutilized techniques for conservation planners to improve implementation success. The processes and techniques associated with the mental models concept have been applied in a variety of fields including business and organization science, risk analysis, education, natural resource management, and climate change adaptation. Our review of mental models illustrates that their application can strengthen the success of conservation planning by: (1) contributing to clear and open communication between stakeholders; (2) aiding in overcoming obstacles to incorporating multiple sources of knowledge; (3) enabling shared ownership of a conservation plan; and (4) improving social assessments. Techniques to explicitly communicate mental models can contribute to each phase of a conservation planning process—assessment, planning, management, and review. Conservation planners have much to gain by eliciting and sharing mental models in conservation planning processes.