What is the conservation hierarchy

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Beyond the mitigation hierarchy

The Conservation Hierarchy goes further than the Mitigation Hierarchy because it is…

Aspirational: The SDGs and CBD Aichi Targets set a global ambition to go beyond managing impacts towards improving the state of biodiversity, as well as the health and wellbeing of the people that rely on it. This means that Proactive Conservation Actions are required so that conservation is not just responding to and mitigating impacts, but actively promoting the restoration of nature. The Conservation Hierarchy brings both reactive mitigation and proactive restoration together under a single framework to create net positive outcomes for nature.

Integrated: Importantly, the Conservation Hierarchy recognises that conservation and development need to be synergistic rather than either-or. There is plenty of scope for encouraging flourishing nature as well as flourishing humanity. This, though, requires us to think about net outcomes, and move away from the dichotomy of development or preservation towards an integrated approach.

Inclusive: The Conservation Hierarchy goes further than the Mitigation Hierarchy, because it can be applied to all sectors of human impact (e.g. fisheries, agriculture, fashion), all scales (from individual- to project- to global-level), and used by any stakeholder group seeking to be accountable for their biodiversity losses and gains (including all levels of government, businesses and civil society). It allows for disparate impacts on biodiversity and associated mitigation actions to be accounted for and provides a way of organising all conservation actions within a single, proactive, and precautionary framework.

Flexible: To achieve integration and inclusivity, the Conservation Hierarchy is designed to be flexible in how the steps are undertaken, based on the specific situations of different stakeholders. It allows for exploration of different pathways to meet goals, so that specific actions within each step can be tailored towards different scales, stakeholders, budgets, contexts and priorities.