In 2008 the SUSG asked members and non-members about sustainable use in order to assess the way SUSG's focus and performance is perceived by those who feel part of the group and by the SSC, better understand the interests and priorities of these communities with respect to sustainable use, and understand the way sustainable use is handled within IUCN from their perspective. Over 400 questionnaires were returned enabling SUSG to gain an understanding of the way that these communities would like the SSC (and to a degree, IUCN) to deal with sustainable use in the future.

This questionnaire was devised to:

  • Assess the way the IUCN SSC Sustainable Use Specialist Group, its focus and performance, is perceived by those who feel part of the group and by the SSC as a whole.
  • Better understand the interests and priorities of these communities with respect to sustainable use.
  • Gain an understanding of the way sustainable use is handled within IUCN from the perspective of these constituencies.
  • Gain an understanding of the way that these communities would like the SSC (and to a degree, the IUCN as a whole) to deal with sustainable use in the future.

A total of 420 questionnaires were returned, 97 from people who identified with the SUSG and 323 from others, the majority of whom (81%) identified with the SSC. Although the total circulation of the survey is not accurately known, this is considered to be a very good response. The full results are summarised in the table below (which highlights the differences between the two main groups of respondents) and graphically in the PDF survey charts.

According to the respondents:

Sustainable Use:

  1. Although there is ambiguity in the concept, sustainable use is a key contemporary issue in the conservation of nature and natural resources and critically important for conservation.
  2. Sustainable use is a powerful tool for achieving conservation over whole landscapes including protected areas
  3. It is essential to ensure that any use of wild species is sustainable, but it is also essential to promote use when it produces livelihood benefits and positive conservation outcomes.
  4. Both the subsistence and commercial use of wild plants and animals are ethically acceptable and can deliver important conservation benefits.

The SUSG:

  1. The SUSG has effective and proactive leadership, keeps its community well informed about contemporary sustainable use issues and achieves a reasonable level of participation in its activities. However, the group’s communication tools need strengthening.
  2. Other SSC members (t is important to remember that almost 20% of the respondents in this group identified with parts of IUCN other than the SSC) are keen to play an active part in sustainable use, but do not feel well informed or able to contribute to the group’s work. The SUSG must find a way to work more closely with the SSC taxonomic groups.
  3. The SUSG must take its work beyond understanding sustainability to promote the use of wild species where this delivers conservation incentives.
  4. The SUSG needs an effective regional structure and should be developing projects on the ground with the IUCN regional offices.
  5. The SUSG should support the IUCN Programme without losing its focus on cutting edge issues. It needs a strong focus on global policy focus and should pay more attention to sustainable development and concepts such as resilience.
  6. The SUSG should continue its work and employ a full time Programme Officer

SSC and IUCN:

  1. The SUSG is probably not a sufficient focus on sustainable use for IUCN and although the SSC has been a good ‘home’, sustainable use needs to be dealt with on a cross Commission basis. The issues may be sufficiently important to merit a Commission on sustainable use.
  2. It is not clear that IUCN has sufficiently mainstreamed sustainable use in the programme, its policy on sustainable use is not well known outside the SUSG and there are concerns that sustainable use is not fully accepted within IUCN.
  3. It is not clear how effectively IUCN supports sustainable use issues in MEAs such as CITES
  4. Sustainable use should be an over-arching theme within IUCN which should make staff and resources available to support work on these issues.

PDF Survey Charts:

  1. SUSG members' responses*
  2. All responses minus SUSG members*

*The header information on both documents is incorrect - the total number of questions shown is 6, not 7.