Imperial College London


Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences

Research Postgraduate



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Publication Type

4 results found

Lyons-White J, Pollard E, Catalano A, Knight Aet al., 2020, Rethinking zero deforestation beyond 2020 to more equitably and effectively conserve tropical forests, One Earth, ISSN: 2590-3322

Collective targets set by private, government and non-government organisations to achieve global “zero net deforestation” by 2020 have been missed. Here, we explore the limitations of zero deforestation (ZD) targets and commitments. We review the origins of the ZD concept and explore conceptual and practical challenges with attaining ZD. Conceptual challenges include problems with defining “forest”, social equity, and agricultural expansion leaking to non-forest ecosystems. Practical challenges include implementing ZD in highly complex supply chains. We reflect on the framing of ZD and discuss principles to support post-2020 conservation targets and commitments. We emphasise the importance of defining relationships between global goals and targets, national targets, and commitments. We call for research to understand the impacts of ZD commitments on local stakeholders in diverse contexts, including highly-forested landscapes. Reframing ZD will not solve deforestation, but reflecting on its limitations could support more effective and equitable tropical forest conservation beyond 2020.

Journal article

Catalano AS, Lyons-White J, Mills MM, Knight ATet al., 2019, Learning from published project failures in conservation, Biological Conservation, Vol: 238, Pages: 1-10, ISSN: 0006-3207

Conservation professionals need to know what has worked and what has not when designing, implementing, evaluating and refining conservation projects. Project failure reporting is an important, but largely unexploited, source of learning that capitalizes on the learning opportunity of failure provided through the experience of navigating research-implementation ‘spaces’. Learning from others through reading available literature is one way to supplement learning gained through direct experience. Learning vicariously is especially effective when presenting failure as opposed to success experiences. We reviewed the peer-reviewed conservation science literature to identify the extent and characteristics of failed project reporting, focusing our analysis upon social dimensions as opposed to biological causes, which have been comparatively well addressed. We quantified the degree to which articles reported activities commonly applied to learn from failure in business, medicine, the military and commercial aviation. These included activities for identifying, analyzing, correcting and sharing project failures. We used qualitative thematic analysis to identify the social causes of project failure. Reports of failed project experiences are rare and lack standardization. Human dimensions of project failure, such as stakeholder relationships, are more commonly reported than other causes of failure. The peer-reviewed literature has the potential to become a useful repository of lessons learned from failed projects. However, practical challenges such as identifying individuals' cognitive biases, cultivating psychological safety in teams, mainstreaming systemic team learning behaviors, addressing varied leadership styles, and confronting fear of failure in organizational culture must be overcome if conservation professionals are to effectively navigate research-implementation ‘spaces’.

Journal article

Catalano AS, Redford K, Margoluis R, Knight ATet al., 2018, Black swans, cognition and the power of learning from failure, Conservation Biology, Vol: 32, Pages: 584-596, ISSN: 0888-8892

Failure carries undeniable stigma and is difficult to confront for individuals, teams, and organizations. Disciplines such as commercial and military aviation, medicine, and business have long histories of grappling with it, beginning with the recognition that failure is inevitable in every human endeavor. While conservation may arguably be more complex, conservation professionals can draw upon the research and experience of these other disciplines to institutionalize activities and attitudes that foster learning from failures, whether they are minor setbacks or major disasters. Understanding the role of individual cognitive biases, team psychological safety, and organizational willingness to support critical self-examination all contribute to creating a cultural shift in conservation to one that is open to the learning opportunity that failure provides. This new approach to managing failure is a necessary next step in the evolution of conservation effectiveness. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Journal article

Catalano AS, Knight AT, 2016, Does procrastination promote failure in conservation of extremely small populations? A response to Meek, BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION, Vol: 194, Pages: 217-217, ISSN: 0006-3207

Journal article

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