Gooden, Jennifer, & Flora C. Moir (2019, August). Consensus, clusters, and trade-offs in wildlife-friendly ranching: An advance analysis of stakeholder goals in northern Mexico. Biological Conservation, 236, 443-451. (Open Access: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.06.004)

Abstract: This study assessed stakeholder priorities to inform the development of a private land conservation program intended to restore grasslands in northern Mexico. Drawing together ranchers, NGOs, and others, the GANARE program appears to provide opportunity for “win-win” outcomes; however, focusing on mutual benefit risks obscuring differences amongst stakeholders. We used Q methodology to assess stakeholders’ objectives for the program. We analyzed the results quantitatively with factor analysis and qualitatively by interpreting the content of Q sorts and participants’ verbal descriptions of their sorting decisions. We found four groups of stakeholders: two groups composed of ranchers (Sustainable Ranchers and Lifestyle Ranchers), one group composed of NGO representatives (Conservation NGOs), and one group with mixed composition (Sustainable Ranching Advocates). All four groups converged around the issue of reversing and preventing desertification, but their other priorities for the program varied. Yet, despite divergent perspectives, results show there is potential for mutually beneficial outcomes, particularly if tradeoffs are attended to in program planning. Q methodology offers a mechanism for identifying groups of stakeholders, and their areas of agreement and disagreement, in advance of program implementation. This study provides information to better design, monitor, and evaluate a program to benefit all groups of stakeholders, which we believe will increase the success of this private land conservation program.

Jennifer Gooden <jennifer.gooden@ouce.ox.ac.uk> is in the School of Geography and the Environment, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

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