Measuring the intensity of conflicts in conservation

Cusack, Jeremy J.; Bradfer-Lawrence, Tom; Baynham-Herd, Zachary; Castelló y Tickell, Sofia; Duporge, Isla; Hegre, Håvard; Moreno Zárate, Lara; Naude, Vincent; Nijhawan, Sahil; Wilson, John; Zambrano Cortes, Dario Gerardo; Bunnefeld, Nils


Conflicts between the interests of biodiversity conservation and other human activities pose a major threat to natural ecosystems and human well-being, yet few methods exist to quantify their intensity and model their dynamics. We develop a categorization of conflict intensity based on the curve of conflict, a model originally used to track the escalation and deescalation of armed conflicts. Our categorization assigns six intensity levels reflecting the discourse and actions of stakeholders involved in a given conflict, from coexistence or collaboration to physical violence. Using a range of case studies, we demonstrate the value of our approach in quantifying conflict trends, estimating transition probabilities between conflict stages, and modeling conflict intensity as a function of relevant covariates. By taking an evidence-based approach to quantifying stakeholder behavior, the proposed framework allows for a better understanding of the drivers of conservation conflict development across a diverse range of socioecological scenarios.