Tailoring Biodiversity Information to Local Needs in the Threatened Tropical Andes
A new approach to co-designing biodiversity indicators relevant for conservation
Lima, Halle, Leipzig. Sustainable biodiversity conservation requires cooperation among scientific, societal, economic, and political institutions. In the journal Conservation Science and Practice, researchers have published a new approach to co-designing biodiversity indicators relevant for conservation. They brought together multiple stakeholders in a consultative process, tailoring user-relevant biodiversity information to local needs. The project was led by researchers of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, together with multiple partners in the Tropical Andes. The collaborative approach can serve as a blueprint for making biodiversity information more inclusive, considering the diverse worldviews, values, and knowledge systems between science, policy, and practice.
The study demonstrates the power of engaging local stakeholders in biodiversity decision-making. Over 400 people participated in localised surveys and workshops across Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. They included local communities, businesses, and civil society organisations in each country.
"This process amplified underrepresented voices frequently excluded from policymaking," said Gabriela Orihuela, President of the Association in support of the National Botanical Garden of Lima. "It enabled the development of scalable conservation solutions aligned to local needs and priorities."
The researchers used tailored storylines and ecological narratives during the surveys and workshops to effectively communicate biodiversity challenges and potential solutions among the participants.
Based on participant feedback, the team then co-designed biodiversity insights that meet user needs. The team collaborated with stakeholders to transform raw biodiversity data into actionable insights and user-friendly products, tailored for policymakers, communities, and key audiences to use in conservation efforts and decision-making in the region.
“Stakeholders expressed the need for biodiversity information in clear formats and languages,” said Natividad Quillahuaman of the Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica (ACCA) “This process transformed raw biodiversity data into actionable information to support urgent biodiversity needs across sectors.”
The study led to new collaborations among six institutions across Latin America and Europe, pioneering an inclusive biodiversity research model. It also produced scientific publications and news coverage in multiple languages, while building local capacity through training programs to ensure sustained impact. Significantly, most authors were locally based, representing the communities in the regions, underscoring the commitment to amplifying regional voices.
"By engaging local voices tailoring solutions that address local needs and priorities, we created a blueprint for effective biodiversity policies in this globally vital region," stated lead author Dr. Jose Valdez, researcher at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. "This inclusive approach can serve as a model for balancing conservation, development and sustainability not just in the Tropical Andes but other regions as well.”
As biodiversity threats mount globally, this study's inclusive approach demonstrates the power of participatory processes to amplify local voices and strike a critical balance between urgent conservation needs and community priorities in globally vital ecosystems.
(Researchers with iDiv affiliation and alumni bold)
Valdez, J.W., Pereira, H.M., Morejón, G.F., Acosta-Muñoz, C., Bonet Garcia, F.J., Castro Vergara, L., Claros R. X., Gill, M.J., Josse, C., Lafuente-Cartagena, I., Langstroth, R., Novoa Sheppard, S., Orihuela, G., Prieto-Albuja, F.J., Quillahuaman, N., Terán, M.F., Zambrana-Torrelio, C.M., Navarro, L.M., Fernandez, M. (2023). Tailoring evidence into action: using a codesign approach for biodiversity information in the Tropical Andes. Conservation Science and Practice, DOI: 10.1111/csp2.13035
Dr Jose W. Valdez(speaks English and Spanish)
Biodiversity Conservation research group
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Phone: +49 341 9739168