1st Edition

Conservation Leadership A Practical Guide

By Simon Black Copyright 2024
    324 Pages 49 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    324 Pages 49 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book is an important guide for individuals seeking to develop and grow their leadership skills in the wildlife conservation sector, across varied disciplines such as environmental management, conservation biology, and ecotourism.

    Conservation Leadership addresses what leadership is, why it is important, and how to be an effective leader. It identifies the common pitfalls or mistakes in a leader’s thinking or behaviour, and the unexpected consequences or responses which can arise, and then explores more helpful alternative approaches to leadership. The book is divided into three parts:

    • Part I: Leadership principles
    • Part II: Four areas of profound theory: knowledge, psychology, systems, and variation
    • Part III: Skills and competencies for conservation leaders

    It focuses on contextual and organisational challenges in conservation, including limited resources, remote locations, fragile species of concern, politics, community conflict, crime, and commercial pressures. The scope is global, using diverse examples such as sea turtle head-starting in South Asia, reforestation in North Africa, bird conservation in North America, human–wildlife interactions in the Himalayas, and post-colonial issues in the Caribbean. Case studies illustrate key learning points from small local teams through to global transnational initiatives. Exercises in each chapter enable the exploration of less-familiar topics, including interpersonal skills, goal setting and performance measurement, plus a unique research-derived conservation leadership self-assessment tool.

    This book is an essential reading resource for professionals and senior leaders in the wildlife management and conservation sector, as well as students on biodiversity conservation, wildlife conservation, and environmental management courses.

    Part I Leadership Principles

    1 An introduction to leadership in conservation

    2 Avoiding potential pitfalls in conservation leadership

    3 Understanding new perspectives in conservation leadership

    4 How leadership affects conservation design

    Part II Four Areas of Profound Theory: Knowledge, Psychology, Systems, and Variation

    5 Using the theory of knowledge in conservation management

    6 Managing performance in natural systems

    7 The psychology conservation leadership

    8 Organisational systems theory for conservation leaders

    Part III Skills and Competencies for Conservation Leaders

    9 Verbal skills, listening, and negotiation in conservation leadership

    10 Managing teams through effective conservation leadership

    11 Governing change and innovation in conservation

    12 ‘Six factors of conservation leadership’: a framework for professional development


    Simon Black is an Organisational Psychologist and Conservation Biologist who has trained hundreds of professionals worldwide and devised the innovative postgraduate course 'Leadership Skills for Conservation Professionals' at the School of Anthropology and Conservation at the University of Kent, UK. He is a trustee of Wildwood, the leading UK conservation and rewilding charity, has published over 50 international journal articles, and is co-author of Species Conservation: Lessons From Islands (2018).

    "Poor leadership constrains organisational efforts and limits success, but effective leaders adapt to emerging situations and challenges. Simon Black’s work, presented in this guide, steers the development of leadership skills, use of personal feedback, effective execution of organisational processes, and change management; all essential for equipping organisations for sustained success". 

    LUKE MAAMAI, Lion Guardians Conservation Manager, Kenya

    "Simon Black leaves no question unanswered on how to be an impactful leader in this tried-and-tested wisdom-infused book. It offers unique clarity in understanding the role of leadership in conservation found in no other book. A MUST HAVE for seasoned, new and future leaders". 

    DANITA STRIKLAND, Marine Programme Manager, Conservation International, Samoa

    "Shortly after leaving university, I became coordinator of an island restoration programme, despite limited project management experience. Happily, I was able to benefit from a week-long training course by Simon Black. Those practical tools and techniques, now covered in his book, significantly strengthened my leadership effectiveness and, even many years into my conservation career, continue to provide benefits".

    SHANNA CHALLENGER, Offshore Islands Conservation Program, EAG, Antigua & Barbuda

    "Simon Black’s book enables a rethink of conservation leadership for the complex, evolving needs of our sector. Recognising the importance of valuing people within the process of leadership, the book provides guidance on how to demonstrate mutual respect, adapt to emerging situations, devolve responsibility and ultimately deliver more effective conservation".

    JAMIE COPSEY, Director of Training, IUCN SSC Conservation Planning Specialist Group

    "This book arrives in a moment where, more than ever, effective leadership is needed to face challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss. Simon Black brings his experience and insights to offer this practitioners’ guide. From behavioural components which foster motivation, through to purposeful systematic change and concrete action, the book offers a new perspective on conservation leadership".

    ANITA DIEDERICHSEN, WWF Brazil, Forest Landscape Restoration Global Leader and CCNET Lead (Latin America)

    "Many years ago, Simon’s training insights helped me to take on challenges for biodiversity in India and steer the conservation efforts which we continue to pursue. I am pleased to see this learning in book form, complete with updated subjects which will nurture leadership in budding conservationists, as well existing leaders, to face conservation challenges of today". 

    PARAG JYOTI DEKA, Programme Manager Pygmy Hog Conservation (Durrell), and Threatened Species Recovery Programme (Aaranyak), India

    "This is a much-needed resource for conservation practitioners, to rethink how leadership can shape conservation outcomes. It offers an essential view of leadership at all levels of conservation work, and the qualities and attributes to which we should aspire, to nurture our pursuit of successful conservation".

    SAMUEL LESLIE, Savannakhet Landscape Director, Wildlife Conservation Society, Lao PDR

    "Bold and creative leaders are required to look to the future to make the world a better place for all biodiversity.  Simon’s book is showing how we need leadership to do this and is helping to show the way".

    CARL JONES, Chief Scientist, Durrell; Scientific Director, Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, and Indianapolis Prize Winner 2016

    "I recommend this book to fellow conservationists from all cultural backgrounds looking to positively influence their communities, accelerate change and to successfully lead conservation programmes".

    WILNA ACCOUCHE, General Manager, Green Islands Foundation, Seychelles

    "Successful and strong leadership is needed to drive forward change, to lead teams and to steer groups to work in partnership. Never has it been so critical for us to have effective leadership in conservation, so it is without doubt, the perfect timing for this book".

    PAUL WHITFIELD, Director General, Wildwood Trust, UK