Contrasting traditional conservation projects and community-driven initiatives: A visual comparison

What is the difference between traditional conservation projects and community-based projects?


Nature conservation plays an important role in sustainable development and biodiversity conservation. Traditional conservation projects and community-based projects represent two different approaches to conservation. In this article, we describe the differences between the two approaches.

Traditional conservation projects

Traditional conservation projects are usually programmes initiated and funded by governmental or international organisations. These projects are usually larger in scale and longer in duration, and aim to conserve and restore natural areas. They involve experts and researchers who base decisions on data collection and research in the field.

In traditional projects, decision-making and implementation are mainly in the hands of experts and government agencies. Such projects tend to involve local communities to a lesser extent and are more limited to passive participation, for example by providing only information about the project to the people living in the area.

Community-based projects

Community-based projects are based on the involvement of local communities. These projects are generally smaller in scale and shorter in duration, and require the active participation of local communities. Community-based projects give local people a say in decision-making and project design.

In community projects, local communities play an important role in the conservation and sustainable use of natural areas. In such projects, local knowledge and experience are a valuable resource and communities are actively involved in work in the area, such as restoration work or sustainable use of natural resources.


The difference between traditional conservation projects and community-based projects lies mainly in decision-making and participation. Whereas traditional projects are dominated by experts and government agencies, community-based projects involve local communities playing an active role in decision-making and project implementation. Both approaches have advantages and limitations, and it can be important to combine them for effective conservation.

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