IUCN Publishes Guidelines on Human-Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence

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The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC) has published a set of guidelines on human-wildlife conflict (HWC) and coexistence, building on the body of work on this increasingly vital topic for our society.

Human-wildlife conflict continues to be a growing problem for people and wild species alike. Our encroachment into wild spaces has undeniably created issues that require thoughtful guidance, particularly given the countless lives affected by this type of conflict on a daily basis.

In looking to address HWC through these new guidelines, IUCN is directly addressing Target 4 of the Global Biodiversity Framework adopted at the CBD COP15 in Montreal last year, which calls on parties to “effectively manage human-wildlife interactions to minimize human-wildlife conflict for coexistence.”

The IUCN guidelines are centred around five key principles for dealing with HWC, with a particular focus on providing tools and approaches that can be used by conservation practitioners, community leaders, decision makers, researchers, government officers and others.

This is a particularly useful approach as it provides a broad framework for actors to operate within, something that is needed given the unique nature associated with each individual case of HWC.

The five key principles outlined in the document are:

  1. Do no harm
  2. Understand issues and context
  3. Work together
  4. Integrate science and policy
  5. Enable sustainable pathways

The publication was launched as part of The International Conference on Human-Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence in Oxford, U.K. (30 March-1 April, 2023) which was hosted by the IUCN SSC Human-Wildlife Conflict & Coexistence Specialist Group, and co-hosted by the Global Wildlife Program and WildCRU of Oxford University.

Dr Alexandra Zimmermann, Chair of the IUCN SSC Human-Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence Specialist Group and Senior Research Fellow at the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Oxford University, highlighted the critical role that HWC management plays in contributing to conservation at the event:

Effectively managing how humans interact with wildlife is fundamental to achieving conservation goals, as highlighted in the recently agreed Global Biodiversity Framework.”

With IUCN’s new guidelines, it is hoped that we can look to address fundamental conversation issues in a new multi-disciplinary fashion.

This course of discussion was also part of conference proceedings, with suggestions that these guidelines will provide a clear way to manage “complex situations,” which will hopefully lead to the creation of “new policies and community-led action strategies for achieving coexistence with wildlife in any context.”