Human Dimensions of Wildlife Unit

With 39.5 million people living in California, perhaps the most important species that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife manages is our own.

What are Human Dimensions?

Wildlife issues are complex. While human behavior may be the root of many wildlife problems, people are also key to meaningful conservation and management actions. Such conservation efforts require a comprehensive understanding not only of ecology and wildlife biology, but also of policy, socioeconomic factors, cultural and social values, and other dimensions of human behavior.

The CDFW Human Dimensions of Wildlife Conservation (HD) Unit is a collaborative program conducting interdisciplinary research to better manage California’s natural resources. HD research investigates the role that people play in wildlife management and conservation, actions and decision-making, using comprehensive social and environmental sciences. HD research complements the work of other scientific fields by:

  • Exploring and presenting public opinions about wildlife. Specifically, what conservation and management issues are most concerning to Californians?
  • Building collaborations and communication efforts around wildlife, and conservation issues amongst different communities, organizations, and stakeholder groups.
  • Providing the social science expertise to wildlife conservation agencies so that they may make scientifically sound, sustainable decisions about conservation management and policy.

Human Dimensions Research at CDFW

According to the link opens in new tab or windowCalifornia Biodiversity Initiative (PDF), California is home to 6,700 plant and animal species, making it the most biodiverse state in the country. With nearly 40 million people, it is also the most populated. The HD Unit provides an open forum for clear, engaging, and transparent discussions between the public and Department.

  • Balancing human needs and wildlife needs presents many challenges. 
  • In California, the human and environmental landscapes are almost constantly changing due to such factors as continual population growth, translocations, wildfires, drought, and climate change.
  • Understanding how Californians think and make decisions about their natural resources will help CDFW respond to challenges. 

Ongoing Projects