Communities have an important role to play in biodiversity conservation. However, community-based conservation as a panacea, like government-based conservation as a panacea, ignores the necessity of managing commons at multiple levels, with vertical and horizontal interplay among institutions. The study of conservation in a multilevel world can serve to inform an interdisciplinary science of conservation, consistent with the Convention on Biological Diversity, to establish partnerships and link biological conservation objectives with local development objectives. Improving the integration of conservation and development requires rethinking conservation by using a complexity perspective and the ability to deal with multiple objectives, use of partnerships and deliberative processes, and learning from commons research to develop diagnostic tools. Perceived this way, community-based conservation has a role to play in a broad pluralistic approach to biodiversity protection: it is governance that starts from the ground up and involves networks and linkages across various levels of organization. The shift of attention to processes at multiple levels fundamentally alters the way in which the governance of conservation development may be conceived and developed, using diagnostics within a pluralistic framework rather than a blueprint approach.
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