The Conservation & Development Forum (CDF), initiated in April 1996 through a grant from the
Ford Foundation, was created to serve as a center for ideas and research worldwide on
conservation and development, the first independent organization to broadly survey these fields
on a continuing basis. The Forum Director and permanent staff are based at the University of
Florida, while an international Board of Directors representing a broad array of regional and
professional backgrounds will decide the strategic course of Forum activities and design its
agenda. The Forum will operate in partnership with the Ford Foundation and a growing network
of scholars and practitioners.
The basis for the Forum is the many "experiments in conservation and sustainable development"
over the last decade, which offer the opportunity to gather together and reflect on that
experience. The Forum hopes to reflect and learn from experiences that demonstrate
particularly novel approaches; treat apparently intractable problems; and emphasize knowledge
unlikely to appear otherwise.
Creating the proper environment for such a mission is not easy. Academic institutions -- both
Northern and Southern -- are necessary, but not sufficient for the task. NGOs and donors cannot
spare the time or build the capacity for dispassionate analysis or large-scale comparisons, and
participatory models for community-building across such a broad intellectual and action mandate
are in short supply.
Moreover, the conservation and development community does not agree on which issues or
approaches are paramount. The broad, exciting canvas of sustainable development is difficult to
cover, and concentrating either on the macroscopic issues of global sustainability or the
microscale problems of local resource management quickly reveals the importance of cross-scale
inquiry into the complex phenomena of resource use and conservation. It does not, however,
help focus our attention on a small set of issue areas.
Recognizing these problems and opportunities, the Forum proposes to convene donors and
program staff together with the academic community, grantees, and other practitioners; create
new North-South and South-South partnerships; review the experiences of key actors in
conservation and development; communicate the most advanced methods for understanding the
interaction of human and natural systems; and produce a set of durable products for future use
by the conservation and development community.
The Forum will not try to cover the entire field of conservation and development, but to find
useful starting points. The activities of the Forum are guided and focused by a set of priority
themes developed in consultation with the community. Initial themes include community-based
resource management, institutions and governance, adaptive frameworks for learning, and
industry-ecosystem-community linkages. These priorities focus on building the capacity to
manage resources, resolve conflicts, and "release energies" to promote conservation and
development. Continued dialogue among CDF and the community results in ongoing revision to
these thematic priorities.
Throughout its implementation, the Forum will explore a variety of possible products, including
state-of-the-art briefing papers; a series of workshops that convene non-grantees and
representatives of the scholarly and NGO community; publishable products that reach out to the
community at large; short courses that bring new knowledge or methods expeditiously to "on-
line" action agencies; an on-line Internet facility for the network; and high-profile public meetings
designed to bring other donors and public policy makers into the process.
For more information, contact: Conservation & Development Forum telephone: 352-392-6548
PO Box 115531 telefax: 352-392-0085
Gainesville, FL 32611-5531 USA e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
5 September 1996