Naturalliance, second edition

IUCN started the idea that sustainable use of wild living resources can be a powerful tool for conserving nature. The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, agreed in 1992, defines sustainable use and mentions it more than five times as often as protection of species and habitats. It was implicit in CBD's Malawi Principles (the Ecosystem Approach, 1998), IUCN’s Amman Statement on sustainable use (2000), and CBD's Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines (2004), that conservation through sustainable use needs devolution of adaptive management to people as close as possible to local level. These documents, initiated by IUCN’s Sustainable Use Initiative, reflected awakening in Africa of Community Based Natural Resource Management.  


In contrast, Europe focussed on top-down measures to constrain use of wild resources, with more and more land used intensively for plant and animal crops to meet consumer demand and EU-subsidy. Charters were developed by Bern Convention to advise governments and societies on conservation through hunting, recreational fishing and gathering fungi. There is a growing inclination for state funds to be used to encourage conservation by farmers and foresters, if only to maintain water, air and climate quality. However, conserving nature while growing crops efficiently is complex. Although a cooperation of IUCN and UK's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and IUCN saw a way to meet this challenge 20 years ago, two EU-funded projects were needed to design a system  that could combine science with local knowledge to support land-use decisions that would be good for nature as well as for livelihoods. A high-level paper showed that key attributes for such a system to support would be knowledge leadership and adaptive management. Sadly, before satnavs put AI-based decision support everywhere, reviewers of bids in 2012-14 deemed the system too ambitious to develop. However, at last that is changing.


Horizon2020 in the European Unions's Green Deal


Volunteers in IUCN Commissions are dedicated to nature conservation and continued development towards community-based nature conservation anyway. We devised a way to speed uptake of an eventual environmental support system, by getting people across Europe thinking of the community-based mapping that it would require, and by surveying them about what it needed to do. The result, in 2011, was Since then it has become ever more urgent for rural communities worldwide to learn fast how to benefit sustainably from nature, to help keep climate benign and to elect politicians so minded. However, it has also become clear that, given appropriate software, dedicated volunteers could run networks for global-with-local activity very cheaply. Multilingual networks were launched for UNEP's Convention on Migratory Species and the International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey, to encourage community conservation of Saker Falcons and Grey Partridges.


Then, in April 2019, was launched for IUCN, as a hub to network in 54 languages with local communities worldwide. Online by October 2021 were 42 languages: Afrikaans, Amharic, Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, English, Estonian, Farsi, Finnish, French, German, Georgian, Greek, Hausa, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Lithuanian, Malay, Mandarin, Mongolian, Nepali, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, kiSwahili, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese and isiZulu. Belarusian was added in 2023.


At last, in a world where nature conservation too was plagued by COVID-19, European Commission issued a call in 2021 for bids to up-scale successful conservation work from farm level, through communities to landscapes as a Nature-based Solution. Members of a small core team based in Greece and UK submitted a bid, working with colleagues from the previous bids and exciting new partners. Colleagues in European Sustainable Use Group had already started to scale up work on farmland, notably through farmer-clusters in UK and creating new wetland in Finland. Sadly, that bid was not successful.


Colleagues in Greece then convened 20 partner organisations for a second bid, in 2022, for work on sustainable use of coastal area resources. Although that bid scored 13.5/15, it was not initially funded. However, 2022 also saw publication of the Assessment on Sustainable Use of Wild Species by the Intergovernmental Science-policy Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which recognised the potential of Sustainable Use of Biodiversity for helping to meet UN Sustainable Development Goals. That may have helped the PRO-COAST bid to be funded as one of the best runners-up in its round.


European Sustainable Use Group leads PRO-COAST project


PROactive approach for COmmunities to enAble Societal Transformation will start on 1 November 2023 and run for 3 years, coordinated by ESUG. The project will research how to create Transition Communities by addressing motivations for nature conservation based on human culture and diversity considerations. It will do this by initiating projects in nine local coastal areas of Europe, with motivations based mainly in sustainable use (of cultural and productive services from wild species and their ecosystems), and then scale for roll-out on the network. The work will include more satellite-site facilities in local languages. It will also build web-services, to deliver decision support for conservation through sustainable use in exchange for local data used to make the decisions.


Our mainstay networks in 2020 


The principle of the system is a multilingual hub (red) which explains general principles for conserving the natural world (click the figure to expand, use  to return to this page). By selecting a language and area where they live, visitors can click through to a regional or national monolingual satellite (green) which is rich in knowledge for that area and links to local projects. All the satellites are part of a single network, so it is easy for them to channel information (purple), at first on surveys, but later potentially as environmental data for decision support to manage land and livelihoods.


The network  would not have been possible without the support of the International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey for developing Sakernet and Perdixnet. It depends crucially on Patrons shown at bottom(right) here. Many thanks also for drafting and comments from Adrian Lombard, Angela Andrade, Dilys Roe, Julie Ewald, Kartik Shanker, Madeleine Nyman, Marina Rosales Benites de Franco, Maya Basdeo, Meera Anna Oomen, Scott Brainerd and Shane Mahoney, and for help with translation and satellites from Aamir Rizwan Khan, Abdollah Salari, Adrian Lombard, Akanksha Singh, Alena Krylovich-Shcharbakova, Alessandra Oliveto, Alexandra Kalanderishvili, Ana María Morales, Artun Kocaman, Asif Iqbal, Bheka Nxele, Borbála Gönye, Dan Cecchini, Dashka Tserendeleg, Ellen Hagen, Farooq Khan, Fiona Liu, František Urban, Giota Digkoglou, Giuseppe Micali, Heidi Krüger, Ilaria Cerli, Ion Navodaru, Israel Manrique Sleiman, Jennifer Ailloud, Julian Mühle, Julius Koen, Keiya Nakajima, Kitty Macpherson, Loay Frookh, Madeleine Nyman, Mari Ivask, Marina Rosales Benites de Franco, Maya Basdeo, Mikhael Romanov, Milena Lesna, Nura Abboud, Ömer Borovali, Osayomwanbo Osarenotor, Pedro Afonso, Piet Wit, Pranas Mierauskas, Ramona Schmidt, Riccardo Simoncini, Sahat Ratmuangkhwang, Sándor Csányi, Sanjeev Poudel, Scott Brainerd, Simon Potier, Siti Suriawati Isa, Sonya Zlatanova, Sotiris Sardelis, Srun Bunthary, Sylvia Kapanga, Tahir Rasheed, Tetiana Gardashuk, Triet Tran, Tsyon Asfaw, Véronique Blontrock, Viktor Šegrt, Yong-Shik Kim and Zenon Tederko.


Naturalliance progress

Software installed & tested

Hub content drafted

Launch in Croatia on 23 April 2019 

Languages planned: 54 (online 43)

National/regional sites planned: >70

(Satellites online: Asia (EN), Austria, Brazil, Canada (EN), Canada (FR), Central Africa (SWA), China, Czech Republic, EN(default), Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Greece, Italy, India, Iran, Japan, Kenya (SWA), Hungary, Nigeria, North Africa (FR), North Asia (RU), Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, South Africa (AFR), South Africa (EN), South Africa (ZUL), Southern Africa (EN), Spain, Spanish America, UK, Ukraine, USA, West Africa (FR)


For PRO-COAST, thanks Stratos Arampatzis!