FOS Newsletter April 2005

Highlights in This Issue

  • FOS Launches New Website
  • FOS Strategic Plan
  • Updates on Strategies and Activities
  • Meet the FOS Team

1. FOS Launches New Website

FOS staff has worked with our website technicians to develop a more dynamic site to better engage our visitors and to more adequately reflect the variety of initiatives we undertake. We are happy to introduce our new website:

Visit the site often for front page news updates, reports on our current activities, and access to our growing library of resources.

2. FOS’s New Strategic Plan

Initially much of FOS’s work focused on developing learning portfolios – a network of projects that use a common conservation strategy and work together. Our objectives were to 1) help practitioners implement more effective conservation projects; 2) learn about the conditions under which a conservation strategy works, does not work, and why; and 3) improve the capacity of portfolio members to do adaptive management.

As we began to implement learning portfolios, we discovered that in order to foster cross-project learning and collaboration, practitioners need basic skills in project and program design, management, and monitoring that allow them to test assumptions, adapt, and learn. While we still believe that learning portfolios are a conceptually promising strategy, they are often difficult to implement when these basic adaptive management skills are missing at the project level. Our experience over the past 5 years has led us to believe that learning portfolios should not be our only mechanism and that we can best achieve our objectives through a variety of strategies.

The FOS team has developed a strategic plan to focus our efforts over the next 5 years on a combination of the following strategies:

  • Adaptive management systems development
  • Training in adaptive management skills
  • Collaborative learning initiatives
  • Coordination and facilitation across conservation organizations
  • Applied research design and implementation
  • External evaluations

For more information on each strategy, visit our website

3. Update on Strategies and Activities

Here is an update on some of our work under our new strategies:

Adaptive Management Systems: TNC and WWF Project Design, Management, and Monitoring Frameworks

FOS is continuing to work with both The Nature Conservancy and WWF to help each institution develop and refine their project-based adaptive management processes. With TNC, FOS has been involved in developing and testing the Conservation Action Planning (CAP) Process: the successor to the 5-S Framework. With WWF, FOS staff has been working on WWF’s new Standards of Conservation Practice.

Adaptive Management Systems: eAdaptive Management Software

Through the Conservation Measures Partnership (CMP), FOS is conducting a scoping exercise to assess the feasibility of developing a software program that would guide conservation practitioners through the adaptive management process. With support from the Moore Foundation, CMP has developed a partnership with Benetech, a deliberately non-profit software engineering organization in Silicon Valley, to develop a prototype of this software and to complete a needs assessment and a business plan.

Training: WWF Southwest Amazon Strategic Planning Workshops

FOS is working with WWF’s Southwest Amazon team and Conservation Science Program (CSP) staff to facilitate the development of a strategic plan and monitoring plan for this trinational ecoregion that includes parts of Brazil, Peru and Bolivia. The group is working together to define conservation targets for the ecoregion, develop a conceptual model, define goals and objectives, strategically select actions to address the principal threats to biodiversity, and develop monitoring plans to measure the impact and effectiveness of their interventions. Where WWF is implementing common strategies in more than one country, the group will discuss options for cross-project learning.

Training: WWF DGIS Strategic Planning Workshops

FOS recently facilitated a planning workshop in Switzerland for WWF DGIS-funded projects working on ‘Poverty Reduction through Improved Natural Resources Management.’ The workshop was designed to help project teams from Zambia, Lao, Peru, and Ecuador agree upon and specify what was happening at their project sites; develop good, relevant goals and objectives; strategically select actions to address key threats and opportunities; and identify indicators for measuring progress toward achieving their goals and objectives. Over the longer term, these projects may work together to develop general lessons about undertaking poverty reduction work through improved natural resources management.

Collaborative Learning: GEF Biodiversity Good Practices Project

The UNDP has hired FOS to help with the planning phase of what will become a five-year project to strengthen the capacity of GEF-funded projects and other conservation actors to generate, disseminate and adopt good practices, innovative approaches and new tools for biodiversity conservation. The project involves: assessing learning needs and interests of current and new GEF-funded projects as well as other conservation projects; defining key learning themes based on feedback from the field; identifying existing mechanisms for cross-project learning; designing proposed learning modules; and assisting with the development of a UNDP/UNEP/World Bank proposal to GEF.

Collaborative Learning: Conservation Easements Learning Portfolio

In partnership with the Monterey Institute of International Studies, FOS is working with a group of private lands conservation leaders throughout Latin America to determine the conditions under which conservation easements are successful or not in Latin America. Known as SEPA, the group has documented the conventional wisdom on conservation easements in Latin America (available soon through the FOS website) and is currently testing some key assumptions that have come out of this document. SEPA members hope to have all data collected and analyzed and a draft report completed by Fall 2005.

Collaborative Learning: Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMA)

FOS works with members of the LMMA learning network that spans the people and cultures of Southeast Asia, Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia and the Americas to collectively learn how to improve marine management activities and increase conservation impact. Last year the network held data management and analysis workshops in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to test a trial database for analyzing project data gathered using the Learning Framework. Congratulations to Bill Aalbersberg, a key member of the Fiji LMMA Network who was involved in founding the learning portfolio – Bill has been awarded the 2005 Walter B, Jones Memorial and NOAA Excellence Award for Promoting Diversity in Ocean and Coastal Resource Management. More information about the LMMA learning portfolio is available at

Coordination and Facilitation: TNC Hudson River Estuary Planning

FOS is working with The Nature Conservancy’s Eastern New York Chapter to help facilitate a multi-stakeholder planning effort for the Hudson River Estuary Watershed. This effort brings together more than 50 people from over 20 organizations to use TNC’s Conservation Action Planning (CAP) Process to develop targets, a situation analysis, strategies, and a monitoring plan for the entire Hudson River Estuary Watershed between the Troy Dam and New York City. FOS staff members are working with TNC staff and a steering committee to adapt the CAP process for use with large multi-stakeholder groups and to facilitate the workshops.

Coordination and Facilitation: Conservation Measures Partnership

The Conservation Measures Partnership (CMP) is a partnership of conservation NGOs that seek better ways to design, manage, and measure the impacts of their conservation actions. FOS acts as a coordinator of CMP to organize and facilitate meetings, coordinate technical work, handle administrative matters, and provide technical advice where needed. In 2004 CMP completed work on:

  • The Rosetta Stone of Project Management Systems: This tool that provides a side-by-side comparison of the systems and terms used by the CMP member organizations to describe their project management systems and definitions of many of these key terms.
  • The Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation: These standards bring together common concepts, approaches, and terminology in conservation project design, management, and monitoring in order to help practitioners improve the practice of conservation. They are meant to provide the steps, principles, tasks, and guidance necessary for the successful implementation of conservation projects.

For more information on CMP, visit

4. Meet the FOS Team

Marcia Brown

Janice Davis

Richard Margoluis

Nick Salafsky

Caroline Stem

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