Conservation entrepreneurship: A new frontier in conservation science

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3 Scopus citations


Entrepreneurship involves the pursuit of opportunities to bring about innovations in the marketplace and create new value for individuals, the economy, and society. Over the last two decades, the recognition of entrepreneurship as a potential ‘force for social good’ has driven practitioners and scholars in the entrepreneurship field – traditionally narrowly focused on financial motives and economic growth – to explore the application of entrepreneurial approaches to promote sustainable development, including in the context of conservation. However, these recent advances in entrepreneurship concepts and practice remain underutilized in conservation science. Herein we review published research on conservation entrepreneurship to provide a conceptual basis for developing a shared understanding of that research field. We offer an overview of key concepts and the scope of entrepreneurship research in four interrelated themes: entrepreneurial opportunity, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship context, and entrepreneurship outcome. We further discuss potential contributions of conservation entrepreneurship research to five areas of inquiry in conservation: action under uncertainty, conservation innovation, financing, scaling impact, and support for the conservation community. We conclude by putting forward a view of conservation entrepreneurship research as the study of the process by which individuals or teams explore and/or exploit entrepreneurial opportunities to solve conservation problems within social-ecological systems. Conservation entrepreneurship is not a panacea but has the potential to offer relevant approaches that supplement existing conservation efforts. It is our hope to stimulate scholarly interest in conservation entrepreneurship as a phenomenon rapidly growing in the real world and diversifying the ways of practicing conservation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110078
JournalBiological Conservation
StatePublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We sincerely thank Dr. Falko Buschke, Dr. Vanessa Adams, and the anonymous reviewer for their valuable comments. DL received financial support from the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) [ 201510/2012-0 ].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Conservation business
  • Conservation enterprise
  • Conservation entrepreneur
  • Conservation innovation
  • Conservation social science
  • Conservation startup
  • Entrepreneurial conservation


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