The field of conservation, and the organizations that represent it, have been rooted largely in the natural sciences. Only within the last generation have we begun to recognize the extent to which conservation is a social process, designed and carried out by people, with effects on both people and nature. Recognizing that conservation is about people as much as it is about species or ecosystems suggests a paradigm shift in the nature and use of science in conservation. Social science theories, analytic tools, and established knowledge can make a vital contribution to conservation success. Moreover, because biodiversity conservation is a widespread social phenomenon, conservation research by social scientists can provide insights into human society generally. Thus, advancing scientific understanding of conservation as a social process is a means both to preserve the earth's natural heritage and enhance our understanding of ourselves.

Social Science Working Group, Society for Conservation Biology Strategic Plan, 2009-2014