What is the Business of a Nature Conservancy?

· working with clients,Learn While Doing,UX Strategy

It’s important to humans to keep the right balance in an ecosystem. If invasive species, or invasive ideas, were to take over, there could be uncool repercussions.

There are strong feelings about how we should all behave relative to the land. Full stop. I’m still trying to get my head around what a nature conservancy is and why it exists. What is the driver for engagement? Who engages? How? Business model? I’ll be digging into it over the next month during a design residency focusing on member engagement strategies. Fascinatingly, the conservancy is looking to engage people with conserving the land while limiting their access to it (so it remains pristine).

Cowboy Ranger, Billy, has been orienting the team to the land. Billy is a cowman raised here, but he's got 3 master's degrees in grass matters and is a radical grazing ecology activist. I find that I want to tag him as either this or that, but no idea how to fill in the blanks. Not sure that dichotomy is going to work here.

There are pronounced us and them dynamics, though I don't know the factions. Feels like old guard v. the new-fangleds? It feels similar to city-based gentrification in that a new mindset introduced by new folks meets with mistrust and resistance. It's not overtly colonial, but there is an air among some locals-- especially cattle ranchers-- of protecting an ethos at risk.


Billy gets animated as he talks about maneuvering cattle to eat exactly the grasses he wants trimmed. The Conservancy uses grazing as an ecological check / balance mechanism to promote biodiversity. They steward the land and the cattle such that the animals get to eat the grass and the land gets to be maintained with the proper nibbling-and-trampling rate. This promotes the right grass growth at the right time. To Billy, this is preferable to mowing or chemicals.

What are the right balance, the right decision trees, and the right trees? Who are the deciders? This is a hotspot of activation. If invasive species were to take over, there could be uncool repercussions.

How do we experience the introduction of new species? Are feelings part of an ecosystem? How come sometimes alliance and sometimes strife? Are some conditions better for cooperation? Does everyone agree on which species we should support?

What is the point of a nature conservancy? Is it in service of Earth’s goals? Is it because we are enchanted by biodiversity? Does biodiversity predict profit? Social dominance? Longevity? Gratification now? Get us to Heaven? What is the realtionshp of most conservationists to the causes they adopt?

More will be revealed.

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