Signature Science

Conservation & Human Well-Being: The CPR Project

Well over 1 billion people live on $1.25 or less a day. Almost 1 billion are undernourished. And many of these people rely directly on nature as their life support — for essential resources such as food, water, fuel and medicine.

So are there conservation projects that both protect nature and increase human well-being—creating a win-win for communities and countries? And can we help build these projects around the world, building support for our work among those people it could benefit directly?

That’s the vision of The Nature Conservancy’s Conservation and Poverty Reduction Project (CPR). CPR is the world’s first multi-country project to quantify in a scientifically rigorous way which kinds of conservation initiatives have a positive impact on local people’s livelihoods.

We’re testing conservation projects from grasslands to coral reefs. Building on the path-breaking findings on natural-resource management of Nobel Prize winning economist Elinor Ostrom, CPR is identifying which factors make these projects successful — with the goal of helping communities and governments across the globe to replicate these successes.

Read below to find our more about our specific studies and findings:

The first-ever review of the scientific literature on which conservation projects have reduced poverty…and how.

An overview of the key step for measuring human well-being.

A synthesis of four case studies that measured the contributions to local poverty reduction from four marine protected areas in Fiji, Solomon Islands, Indonesia and the Philippines.

o Read the policy brief
o See a 15-minute video of the study results
o Read the full report

  • Kenya: Better Grasslands Management Benefits People and Nature

A case study on how community conservation efforts in northern Kenya have improved habitat for wildlife and well-being for people—and will increase community resilience in the face of climate change.

o Read the policy brief
o See a 5-minute video of the project’s results
o Read the full report

  • South Africa: The Umagano Grasslands Project

Can a community-based timber enterprise reduce local poverty and conserve important grasslands in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa?

o Read the paper published in PLoS ONE

  • Mongolia: The Impacts of Improved Grasslands Management

A grasslands management project achieves significant ecological and socioeconomic improvements—benefitting more than 5,000 Mongolians near that country’s largest national park.

o Read the policy brief
o Read the full report
o Read the full report in Mongolian
o Read the paper published in PLoS ONE

  • Nebraska: Leading by Example at the Niobrara Valley Preserve

A Conservancy grasslands preserve that has catalyzed landscape-level changes by linking the power of a positive example to the policy level.

o Read the full report

  • Indonesia: Measuring the benefits and costs of community education and outreach in marine protected areas

A longitudinal assessment of how community education and outreach have changed local knowledge and attitudes towards marine conservation in the center of marine biodiversity.

o Read the paper published in Marine Policy
o Read the full report
o Read the full report in Bahasa

  • Indonesia: Report on a Coastal Rural Appraisal in Raja Ampat Regency

A survey of residents in 88 villages of Raja Ampat about their use of marine resources.

o Read the full report

  • Ecuador: Socioeconomic and ecological assessments of the Quito water fund

The challenges of measuring the socioeconomic and ecological impacts of the Conservancy’s first water fund.

o Read the full report

  • Alabama: Economic Benefits and Impacts from two Oyster Reef Restoration Projects in the Northern Gulf of Mexico

An economic valuation of the oyster reefs in the Gulf of Mexico.

o Read the full report

  • Tanzania: Baseline Study for the Tuungane Health and Conservation Project

A quantitative and qualitative baseline assessment of 10 villages near Mahale Mountain National Park.

o Read the full report

For more information on the CPR Project, contact Craig Leisher, the Conservancy's director of monitoring & evaluation, at