Transforming conservation science and practice for a postnormal world

Matthew J. Colloff*, Sandra Lavorel, Lorrae E. van Kerkhoff, Carina A. Wyborn, Ioan Fazey, Russell Gorddard, Georgina M. Mace, Wendy B. Foden, Michael Dunlop, I. Colin Prentice, John Crowley, Paul Leadley, Patrick Degeorges

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


We examine issues to consider when reframing conservation science and practice in the context of global change. New framings of the links between ecosystems and society are emerging that are changing peoples' values and expectations of nature, resulting in plural perspectives on conservation. Reframing conservation for global change can thus be regarded as a stage in the evolving relationship between people and nature rather than some recent trend. New models of how conservation links with transformative adaptation include how decision contexts for conservation can be reframed and integrated with an adaptation pathways approach to create new options for global-change-ready conservation. New relationships for conservation science and governance include coproduction of knowledge that supports social learning. New processes for implementing adaptation for conservation outcomes include deliberate practices used to develop new strategies, shift world views, work with conflict, address power and intergenerational equity in decisions, and build consciousness and creativity that empower agents to act. We argue that reframing conservation for global change requires scientists and practitioners to implement approaches unconstrained by discipline and sectoral boundaries, geopolitical polarities, or technical problematization. We consider a stronger focus on inclusive creation of knowledge and the interaction of this knowledge with societal values and rules is likely to result in conservation science and practice that meets the challenges of a postnormal world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1008–1017
Number of pages10
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • adaptation pathways
  • adaptation services
  • adaptive governance
  • coproduction
  • global change
  • learning
  • transformation
  • values-rules-knowledge


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