Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

The Nature of Conservation Enterprises

Event Date: 
Sep 05, 2018
9:00 am to 10:30 am EDT
Online Event
USAID, The Bureau for Economic Growth, Education, and Environment (E3)


Small enterprise development is a common approach used by development organizations in biodiversity conservation, agriculture, and other economic growth strategies to generate increased income for rural communities. It is assumed that these benefits will lead participants to change behaviors related to agricultural practices or to natural resource exploitation, or that improved livelihoods will lead to better human development outcomes. However, a recent systematic review of the literature found a lack of evidence connecting alternative livelihood programs to changes in the behaviors of participants.

To learn more about the assumptions behind enterprise approaches, USAID’s Office of Forestry and Biodiversity conducted a twenty-year retrospective evaluation, “The Nature of Conservation Enterprises,” to examine the theory of change behind this widely used international development approach.   

This rare look-back at enterprise approaches included a review of six sites where an enterprise approach to conservation has been implemented for 20 years or more. At each site, implementing partners and stakeholders were interviewed to examine the conditions needed for enterprise establishment and long-term sustainable outcomes.

This webinar is intended for international development staff with an interest in agricultural livelihood development, small enterprise development, or conservation enterprises. Speakers include Dilys Roe, the author of a 2014 systematic review finding a lack of evidence for enterprise approaches. Next, the lead author of the “The Nature of Conservation Enterprises,” Judy Boshoven, will present her findings. This will be followed by remarks from a panel of experts on these approaches, including: enterprise creation (Ann Koontz, Relief International), procurement of fair-trade products (David Hircock, Estee Lauder), enterprise approaches in biodiversity conservation (Mark Moroge, The Rainforest Alliance), and conservation storytelling (Jason Houston, independent photographer). Attendees will be able to ask questions and share their own experiences in small enterprise development.

You can read the full report here, and view the photostory here



Judy Boshoven is a Learning Specialist with Measuring Impact.

She has more than 30 years of conservation experience and over 10 years of experience in training and facilitating program teams across the globe in using adaptive management principles to design, monitor, evaluate, adapt and learn from their biodiversity conservation work.

Panel Member

David is an Executive Director for Global Citizenship and Corporate Sustainability at Estee Lauder Companies.

Estee Lauder is the parent company of Aveda Corporation, which purchases from conservation enterprises in Nepal.

Panel Member

Jason is a nature photographer and a Senior Fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers.

He has published, exhibited, and presented around the world including in The New York Times, NationalGeographic.com, Smithsonian, Science Magazine, Businessweek, and others. Jason took the images featured in the report and accompanying photostory.

Panel Member

Ann is a Senior Vice President of Technical Assistance at Relief International. She is an expert in organizational strengthening and training for local organizations and producer groups.

Ann was involved in the development of some of the enterprises included in the report. She contributed to the research design of the project and accompanied the research team onsite visits in the Philippines.


Dilys is a Principle Researcher and Team Leader for natural resources at the International Institute for Environment and Development.

Dilys has authored a number of publications on conservation enterprises and alternative livelihoods including an article in the Journal of Environmental Evidence titled, “Are alternative livelihood projects effective at reducing local threats to specified elements of biodiversity and/or improving or maintaining the conservation status of those elements?”

Panel Member

Mark is the Director for Latin America for the Rainforest Alliance, one of the key partners working on conservation enterprises in the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala.

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