Bayesian Networks for modeling conservation impacts

CEESP News

By Cory W. Whitney

The application of alternative modeling approaches could be expanded to help bridge the social and biological strengths of the IUCN to help promote both conservation and livelihoods. By combining the features of several participatory procedures into a customized conversational process, expert knowledge can be used to generate the relationships between variables of importance along the impact pathway and parameterize them. A workshop for testing such methods took place in Uganda.

Photo: Photo by SULi member Cory W. Whitney

The application of alternative modeling approaches such as Bayesian Networks (BN) could be expanded within the SULi working group to help bridge the social and biological strengths of IUCN’s SSC and CEESP. The application of such model approaches can support SULi's mission to promote both conservation and livelihoods through enhancing equitable and sustainable use of wild species and their associated ecosystems.

To further promote and test such an approach SULi member Cory W. Whitney was among the organizers of a workshop in Kampala, Uganda, November 15th to 19th, dealing with the loss of traditional small-scale agriculture in Uganda. It brought together a wide range of participants from Uganda’s National Planning Authority (NPA) and Ministry of Agriculture, Makerere University, Bioversity International, and Slow Food International together with local farmers and activists. The workshop was organized and facilitated by members of the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) and the Center for Development Research (ZEF) and supported by the Innovative Metrics and Methods for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions (IMMANA) program.

Through the five-day workshop the team was able to identify the critical determinants of the impact of Vision 2040 on household nutrition, establish the factors determining the success of the steps along the impact pathway, and define the context of a BN. By combining the features of several participatory procedures into a customized conversational process, expert knowledge was used to generate the relationships between the variables of importance and parameterize them using a BN. The modeling team will prepare policy briefs on this case study, as well as on the overall decision analysis procedure. In the interest of bringing this approach forward, a manual on the refined process for analysing development decisions under uncertainty will be disseminated.

Cory W. Whitney is a member of the Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (SULi) the joint initiative of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission (SSC) and the Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP).

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