Quality of Life Plans
Healthy forests and rivers are crucial to maintaining and improving quality of life for many people around the world. When local communities are empowered and considered allies instead of threats to the protection of biodiverse landscapes, they can and do act as stewards of the natural resources that secure their livelihoods (Wali et al. 2017, Cernea and Schmidt-Soltau 2006, Sheil et al. 2006, Colchester 2009).
The goal of Quality of Life planning is to elevate community voices and identify the areas where conservation and community development visions and values overlap.
How do you engage and empower local communities?
One way to engage and support communities to achieve their own goals for and through conservation initiatives are “Quality of Life Plans”. Indigenous peoples have developed Life Plans as a strategy to articulate their own visions of well-being to community planning (Escobar 1995; Villalba 2013). Quality of Life planning is a form of rapid assessment, drawing on an assets-based approach that facilitates community priority setting.
Since 2009, the Field Museum together with strategic partners such as local communities, indigenous organizations, NGOs, and government agencies have developed a participatory methodology that puts the well-being of local people as a central priority in land protection and management decision-making. Using a biocultural lens (Sterling et al 2017) and building off of local assets and strengths, the methodology is designed to facilitate reflection among local communities on the holistic nature of quality of life and to empower them to realize their own vision of wellbeing, rooted in their particular culture and history.