The predominant notion on institutionalising biodiversity conservation is that as a result of the features and functions of biodiversity as well as the attributes of the actors, institutional diversity and multi-level governance are required. Institutional diversity per se, however, is not a panacea for successful biodiversity conservation and even less useful for identifying starting points for action. The Ethiopian case demonstrates what happens when—according to theory—the government “steps aside” and the “market works its wonders”. After recognising the importance of institutional diversity, the challenge is to shape its context-specific patterns by identifying starting points for action. This requires guidance, mediation, and facilitation. The attempt to conserve Ethiopian coffee forests illustrates that the government, NGOs, local communities as well as private companies have their individual interests but also share a common vision to conserve forests. Well coordinated collective action is identified as a necessary consequence of institutional diversity.
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