Delving into wildlife and human well-being, advocating for holistic approaches to holistic well-being outcomes, ensuring sustainable human well-being and wildlife flourishing. OneNature leads the way toward an interconnected future.

Shifting paradigms and practice through expanded engaged approaches and indigenous wisdom

Delving into wildlife and human well-being, advocating for holistic approaches to holistic well-being outcomes, ensuring sustainable human well-being and wildlife flourishing. OneNature leads the way toward an interconnected future.

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In this research, the researchers and practitioners delve into the intricate relationship between wildlife and human well-being, offering a new perspective on community development, sustainable development, and wildlife conservation work.

Economic model failures

Research demonstrates that prevailing economic models, rooted in assumptions of instantiation, fall short of guaranteeing community satisfaction. Economic growth, standing alone, is an inadequate metric for ensuring the holistic well-being of communities. The COVID-19 pandemic brought a sharp impetus for comprehensive approaches that transcend a singular focus on economic growth, addressing the complex interplay between social, economic, and environmental crises.

Research highlights the significance of simultaneously assessing the well-being of both wildlife and humans. It underscores the imperative for wildlife conservation initiatives to incorporate and uplift the livelihoods of local communities. Rather than framing conservation projects around economic growth, the focus should shift to holistic well-being outcomes, ensuring sustainable human well-being and wildlife flourishing.

Holistic wildlife and human well-being measured in tandem

Informed by collaborative efforts, research has presented an innovative approach to community development, all while demonstrating a firm commitment to addressing global challenges. Research provides a roadmap for community development professionals, policymakers, and practitioners to embrace holistic approaches that integrate wildlife conservation, Indigenous wisdom, and evolving measures of well-being. It stands as a testament to the ongoing pursuit of a better, interconnected future for people, wildlife, and the planet.

There is an advocacy for the incorporation of indigenous wisdom in wildlife conservation efforts, highlighting the invaluable insights that can be gained from communities with strong cultural and historical bonds to wildlife. The role of Indigenous women in land protection, cultivation, and passing down cultural knowledge is also emphasized, highlighting the need for their inclusion in conservation decision-making and sustainable development work.

Research further showcases that development strategies post-COVID-19 must adopt comprehensive approaches that address social issues, climate change, and biodiversity conservation simultaneously. The article advocates for the integration of wildlife conservation into community development practices, drawing from the natural and cultural capital literature to inform empirical research, theory, education, policy, and practice.

OneNature takes the lead

OneNature was the coordinating entity behind this perspective article. OneNature emerged in the midst of the chaotic year 2020. Rejecting the traditional economic model, OneNature envisions a future where people, animals, and the planet coexist in enhanced well-being, happiness, and interconnection. OneNature explicitly aims to ensure inclusive well-being for all beings, holding the mission: “Advancing the interconnection of nature, wildlife, and human well-being so animals, people, and the planet can thrive.”

Guided by three integrated focus areas—data-driven research, holistic community projects, and transformational systems change—OneNature strives to create a reality where individuals, communities, and the larger society embrace a sustainable and interconnected future. Despite the challenges, OneNature is committed to fostering a world where people and wildlife thrive together, emphasizing the possibility and necessity of a brighter, happier future. OneNature is open to future collaborations, speaking opportunities, and consultations with practitioners.

Affirming similar endeavors

This research builds upon on-the-ground experiences and theoretical models regarding community development, sustainable development, and wildlife conservation. Collaborating with OneNature, more research from field insights shows the intricate relationships between local culture and wildlife conservation across five global case studies: whales in Iceland, elephants in Thailand, monk seals in Hawaii, koalas in Australia, and wildlife in Alaska. Research elucidates opportunities for communities to reconcile culture and conservation, viewing animals as co-producers of well-being rather than commodities. Such research prompts critical reflection on power dynamics and community ownership/leadership in sustainable development efforts.

These endeavors contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the intersections between community well-being, wildlife conservation, and sustainable development. This line of research is unique in the cases brought forth that showcase the best practices for interventions in communities, which all tether nature, culture, and inclusive well-being. Approaches to community development, sustainable development, and wildlife conservation must be reevaluated to enhance the well-being of all stakeholders. Such approaches align with a recent op-ed in MongaBay titled “How will we know when local communities benefit from carbon offset schemes? (commentary).” This thought-provoking piece delves into better ways to understand carbon offsets, ensuring that local communities truly benefit from such schemes.

Towards a better holistic future

This research and the other pieces mentioned intentionally use structural words like bolstering and tethering. Such words showcase the elasticity and capacity of the ties found in communities and beyond human connections. Furthermore, wildlife is more than mere community resources; it is companions and stakeholders in our sustainable development work. For a better future, models for change rooted in well-being can draw on this research in coming publications and implement relevant lessons learned in practice.


Journal reference

Allgood, B., Mann, T., Round, C., Wall, K., Musikanski, L., & Talmage, C. (2023). Bolstering community well-being through wildlife conservation: Broadened approaches engaging wildlife well-being and indigenous wisdom. Community Development, 54(5), 631-646.

With over a decade in not-for-profit leadership and a Ph.D. in Community Resources and Development, Talmage is an Associate Professor of Management & Entrepreneurship at Hobart & William Smith Colleges. His expertise extends to founding a research consulting practice and serving as the editor-in-chief of Community Development. Talmage contributes insightful articles on social entrepreneurship, local development, sustainability, wildlife conservation, and cultural capital. He teaches courses in local and tourism development, organizational behavior, nonprofit management, and social entrepreneurship. As a faculty liaison for the Center for Community Engagement, he advises campus clubs, showcasing a multifaceted commitment to education and community engagement.

With more than 25 years of experience in conservation and community development, Beth has a demonstrated record of success in organisational leadership, outreach, partnership development, fundraising, strategic planning, and programme implementation. She founded and leads OneNature and has developed innovative approaches to measure and support community well-being in biodiversity and climate projects to create more sustainable outcomes for people and wildlife. Beth was named one of the Explorers Club's “Fifty People Changing The World, The World Needs To Know About." She is a consultant and advisor to several organisations and a member of three International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Commissions.