Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program:
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources


Environmental Justice and Wildlife Conservation

June 2021 - December 2024


Participating Agencies

As global environmental changes continue to accelerate, research and practice in the field of conservation biology may be essential to help forestall precipitous declines in the earth’s ability to sustain a diversity of life. However, many conservation programs have faced scrutiny for the social injustices they create, especially within the paradigm of demarcating protected lands. Currently, a new conservation paradigm emphasizing landscapes shared by people and wildlife is emerging, and with it, an opportunity to ensure that justice for both human and beyond-human groups is given consideration. Here, we draw from theories in environmental justice to detail the many forms of justice at stake in these efforts. Our analysis shows that a pluralistic application of justice is required to ensure that new conservation practices do not produce and reproduce injustices for people. In addition, we show that the success of these emerging programs in meeting their conservation goals in fact depends on meaningfully addressing a range of justice concerns. By developing this framework, we also identify domains in which environmental justice scholarship can expand its scope. To this end, we introduce the novel concept of affective environmental justice, which describes the complex role of emotions as environmental harms, as disruptors of understanding other forms of justice, and as links between logics of oppression. Our framework offers a comprehensive resource to work through in planning and implementing wildlife management and recovery programs, and we conclude by describing the challenges and opportunities for further aligning conservation and environmental justice in research and practice.

Research Publications Publication Date
Massarella, K., Nygren, A., Fletcher, R., Büscher, B., Kiwango, W.A., Komi, S., Krauss, J.E., Mabele, M.B., McInturff, A., Sandroni, L.T. and Alagona, P.S., 2021. Transformation beyond conservation: How critical social science can contribute to a radical new agenda in biodiversity conservation. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 49, pp.79-87. | Abstract April 2021