Principles for the conservation of wild living resources

M Mangel, L M Talbot, G K Meffe, M T Agardy, D L Alverson, J Barlow, D B Botkin, G Budowski, T Clark, J Cooke, R H Crozier, P K Dayton, D L Elder, C W Fowler, S Funtowicz, J Giske, R J Hofman, S J Holt, S R Kellert, L A KimballD Ludwig, K Magnusson, B S Malayang, C Mann, E A Norse, S P Northridge, W F Perrin, C Perrings, R M Peterman, G B Rabb, H A Regier, J E Reynolds, K Sherman, M P Sissenwine, T D Smith, A Starfield, R J Taylor, M F Tillman, C Toft, J R Twiss, J Wilen, T P Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

209 Citations (Scopus)


We describe broadly applicable principles for the conservation of wild living resources and mechanisms for their implementation. These principles were engendered from three starting points. First, a set of principles for the conservation of wild living resources (Holt and Talbot 1978) required reexamination and updating. Second, those principles lacked mechanisms for implementation and consequently were not as effective as they might have been. Third, all conservation problems have scientific, economic, and social aspects, and although the mix may vary from problem to problem, all three aspects must be included in problem solving. We illustrate the derivation of, and amplify the meaning of, the principles, and discuss mechanisms for their implementation.

The principles are:

Principle I. Maintenance of healthy populations of wild living resources in perpetuity is inconsistent with unlimited growth of human consumption of and demand for those resources.

Principle II. The goal of conservation should be to secure present and future options by maintaining biological diversity at genetic, species, population, and ecosystem levels; as a general rule neither the resource nor other components of the ecosystem should be perturbed beyond natural boundaries of variation.

Principle III. Assessment of the possible ecological and sociological effects of resource use should precede both proposed use and proposed restriction or expansion of ongoing use of a resource.

Principle IV. Regulation of the use of living resources must be based on understanding the structure and dynamics of the ecosystem of which the resource is a part and must take into account the ecological and sociological influences that directly and indirectly affect resource use.

Principle V. The full range of knowledge and skills from the natural and social sciences must be brought to bear on conservation problems.

Principle VI. Effective conservation requires understanding and taking account of the motives, interests, and values of all users and stakeholders, but not by simply averaging their positions.

Principle VII. Effective conservation requires communication that is interactive, reciprocal, and continuous.

Mechanisms for implementation of the principles are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-362
Number of pages25
JournalEcological Applications
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 1996


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