In order to achieve our goals, the conservation community must determine the extent to which our actions are working - and we must be able to diagnose why some actions succeed while others do not. In recent years, there has been great convergence among conservation organizations in thinking about how best to plan, implement, and assess conservation actions in the context of a project cycle.
Making the most of the extensive, trial-and-error experience gained by conservation organizations while designing, implementing and appraising their conservation projects, the members of the Conservation Measures Partnership (CMP) have developed a set of project cycle or adaptive management open standards that are reflected in the work of all of our organizations and are, we believe, fundamental to effective conservation. These Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation are less a recipe that must be followed exactly than a framework and guidance for conservation action.
Our goal in developing these Open Standards is to bring together common concepts, approaches, and terminology in conservation project design, management, and monitoring in order to help practitioners improve the practice of conservation. In particular, these standards are meant to provide the principles, tasks, and guidance necessary for the successful implementation of conservation projects. As members of CMP, we hope that by developing these open standards, our colleagues in our respective organizations - and across the conservation landscape - will have clear guidance on how to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of their projects for maximum conservation gain. In addition, we anticipate that these standards will comprise the foundation of a useful conservation audit process.
We have organized the main ingredients of these open standards - principles, tasks, and guidance - into seven steps that comprise the project management cycle including conceptualization, planning, implementation, analysis, adaptation, communication, and iteration (go to www.ConservationMeasures.org to download the full version of the standards). Although we present the standards as a linear series of steps or stages, the entire process is rarely applied in a linear fashion from start to finish - instead it is typically only a rough approximation of the more complex series of back-and-forth movements that a project goes through.