The science of conservation biology has mainly been focused on part of the problem of biodiversity loss; the part that deals with the species and ecosystem processes that we want to protect. But overall, it has failed to engage people and address the complex multi-dimensional natural resource systems that people are part of. I argue that it is necessary to comprehend the social-ecological systems within which conservation actions take place in order to improve the contribution of science to the protection of biodiversity. To that end I describe five scientific tools that could help conservation practitioners influence how complex social-ecological systems work and therefore how they might be managed and governed to deliver both conservation and development outcomes.
Chris Margules is an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, University of Indonesia and in the College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University in Australia. Chris has a lifetime of experience working as both a conservation scientist and a conservation practitioner. His research now focuses on integrating conservation and development. He was a research scientist and research program manager at the Commonwealth Scientiﬁc and Industrial Research Organisation for 32 years and then Senior Vice-President and leader of the Asia Paciﬁc Division at Conservation International until 2011. He received Order of Australia honours in the General Division (AM) for services to science in 2005.