[Article] Restoring the human capacity for conserving biodiversity: a social-ecological approach

Martín-López, B and C Montes. 2015. Sustainability Science 10(4): 699-706Achieving biodiversity targets will require acknowledging that human societies are highly interconnected with the biophysical life-support system, conforming social-ecological systems. Under the social-ecological systems framework, we recognize that human wellbeing depends, in part, upon ecosystems; additionally, biodiversity conservation depends on human behavior and governance. Precisely, under the social-ecological systems paradigm, three conservation challenges emerge: (1) to recognize the value pluralism of biodiversity in science and decision-making, (2) to acknowledge that social-ecological systems require institutional diversity to be managed effectively, and (3) to go beyond scientific disciplines towards a real transdisciplinary science. In this context, sustainability science emerges as the body of knowledge able to understand the complex interactions of social-ecological systems. Consequently, we argue that the current challenge of biodiversity conservation needs to be addressed through the operationalization of sustainability science along the three lines above.


Ecosystem services, institutions, local ecological knowledge, social-ecological systems, sustainability science, value-pluralism


We endorsed this publication as a contribution to challenges 2 and 3 of the ecoSERVICES science strategy. The authors explore research needs in these challenges for achieving biodiversity conservation and take IPBES considerations into account.

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