Policymakers need salient, legitimate and credible evidence on the social and ecological impacts of efforts to conserve global biodiversity. Fuelled by calls for increased rigor in documenting the impact of conservation interventions, a cohort of quasi-experimental studies has begun to quantify the impacts of conservation. The breadth and scope of these studies remains limited, focusing on data-rich geographies, indicators and interventions.  To lay the foundation for evidence-based conservation across a suite of real-world contexts, pragmatic approaches to impact evaluation  are needed, grounded in theory and ongoing experience that simultaneously provides scientific insights and site-level guidance. Key characteristics of this approach include the use of research designs that enable causal inference but which are robust to limited secondary data, the broad definition of outcome metrics to capture both intended and unintended impacts and the ability to explore variation in impacts across social groups and spatiotemporal gradients. In this presentation, Dr. Louise Glew (WWF-US) will draw on examples from across conservation policy and practice, including protected areas, community-based approaches, and certification schemes. This approach is sufficiently robust to inform efforts to document and explain social impacts across myriad interventions, sociocultural and biogeographic settings. In so doing, it offers a mechanism for generating salient, legitimate and credible insights on the impact of conservation efforts to inform policy and practice.

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