FOS Newsletter December 2007

Highlights in This Issue

  • Did You Know…? You Can Use Common Classification Terms to Characterize Your Project in a Standard Way and to Compare Your Project to Other Projects?
  • Update on FOS Strategies and Activities
  • Highlighted Publications from 2007
  • Meet the Newest Member of the FOS Team: Ilke Tilders
  • Please Give Us Your Feedback

Did You Know…?

You Can Use Common Classification Terms to Characterize Your Project in a Standard Way and to Compare Your Project to Other Projects?

Have you ever wondered who might be doing work similar to yours and how you might learn from them? For instance, you may be working on a project to minimize new housing development impacts on wetlands and want to know how others have dealt with the same threat. To find similar projects, you might do an Internet search on “new housing development” and “wetlands.” But, another team doing similar work might have characterized their project as one that addresses “suburban development.” Still another might have used the term, “urban expansion.” To really understand what has been done, you would have to do a search on numerous terms and derivations of those terms. But if there were a common classification system for threats you could more discretely define what your project is doing and likewise, could help focus your search for similar projects.

While there is no “right” way to classify what we do in conservation (e.g., our threats, actions, and targets), it does help if we all use the same system ヨ much as we use a standard system to classify species, genera, or families in the Linnaean system. With this in mind, the Conservation Measures Partnership (CMP) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) have worked together to develop common classification systems for conservation actions and threats. These systems are now starting to spread throughout the conservation community. The classifications aim to: 1) Help practitioners identify all threats or possible actions that may be relevant for their site; 2) Facilitate cross-project learning by allowing practitioners to easily identify similar projects; and 3) Create general summaries or “roll-ups” for broader organizational purposes. For more information, visit the CMP web site.

Update on FOS Strategies and Activities

FOS and UMD Offer Short-Course in Adaptive Management this January

In January 2008, FOS and the University of Maryland (UMD) will offer an intensive, 3-week version of a graduate course in adaptive management for conservation projects. FOS and UMD successfully piloted the full semester version of this course last Spring through UMD’s Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology (CONS) Master’s program. Based on the high demand from conservation practitioners and graduate students, FOS and UMD decided to offer a shorter, intensive course during UMD’s Winter Session. To make it accessible to practitioners in the Washington DC area, the course will be held at the World Wildlife Fund Headquarters on weekday evenings from January 7th ヨ 25th. Like the full semester course, this short course in adaptive management will include hands-on group work on management plans for real conservation projects as a supplement to presentations and facilitation from FOS staff members. There is still time to enroll! Visit the FOS website for information about the course or contact David Inouye, CONS Program Director at Inouye@umd.edu.

FOS Expands Its Menu of Adaptive Management Training Options

Although the adaptive management process is rather intuitive, many practitioners and organizations have not had the opportunity to develop the full set of knowledge or skills needed to successfully apply adaptive management to their conservation work. To help practitioners develop and refine these skills, FOS has traditionally provided on-site training for project teams. Over the past few years, we have witnessed steadily increasing demand for technical assistance and training in adaptive management. While this growing interest is encouraging, FOS does not have the human resources to provide in-person, tailor-made trainings for all of these requests. Moreover, to achieve our mission to improve the practice of conservation, we have to reach many more teams and individuals. With this in mind, FOS is expanding its training program in 2008 to include regionally-centralized trainings for multiple teams, academic training for graduate students and individual practitioners, and online or distance training for project teams. This package will offer a variety of options to better suit differing interests, needs, and budgets. Keep visiting the training page of our website for updates.

Public Launch of Miradi Adaptive Management Software Scheduled for Early 2008

Good conservation planning and management require that managers be systematic and explicit in the steps they take to get their projects up and running and to make sure they are on track. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were computer software that guided managers through all these steps, simplifying the process and ensuring that all steps were covered? That day is not far away. Over the past two years, the Conservation Measures Partnership (CMP) and FOS have worked with the non-profit technology firm, Benetech, to develop and test Miradi Adaptive Management Software. Miradi – a Swahili word meaning “project” or “goal” – is a user-friendly program that allows conservation practitioners to design, manage, monitor, and learn from their projects to more effectively meet their conservation goals. The program guides users through a series of step-by-step interview wizards, based on the CMP Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation. Users can share Miradi files with others, export Miradi project data to reports, or, in the future, to a central database to share their information with other practitioners. Go to www.Miradi.org to learn more about this exciting new resource.

Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (NEAFWA) Takes Lead in Measuring and Rolling Up Results

Across the US, state fish and wildlife agencies have developed detailed Wildlife Action Plans that describe how they will protect threatened species, prevent wildlife from becoming endangered, and keep common species common. The fish and wildlife agencies, Congress, and Federal Agencies now want to know just how effective actions taken as a result of these wildlife action plans have been. The Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (NEAFWA), with assistance from FOS, has taken the lead to develop a performance reporting framework that incorporates the input of managers and experts across the Northeast region. This framework identifies key species and habitats that can help determine wildlife status across the region, a process for assessing the effectiveness of actions supported through State Wildlife Grants, and specific indicators, methods, and data sets for implementing this monitoring work. The framework will allow for reporting at the state level, as well as for rolling up data across several states to get a region-wide perspective. NEAFWA and FOS are now finalizing the framework and will soon present it to decision makers in state agencies and the federal government for their approval. Fish and wildlife agencies across the nation are watching the NEAFWA work, hoping that they can use a similar process in their region. Stay tuned to see where this exciting effort goes!

FOS and the Ocean Conservancy Evaluate the Overfishing Scorecard

In 2005, the Ocean Conservancy (OC) published its first Overfishing Scorecard, which sought to highlight the progress of eight federally-managed regional fish councils whose mandate is to help end overfishing and rebuild overfished fish stocks. The OC teamed with FOS this past year to evaluate the effectiveness of this Scorecard in helping to end overfishing in domestic fisheries. FOS and OC staff retrospectively developed a conceptual model and results chain showing the theory of change behind how the Scorecard was believed to contribute to ending overfishing. FOS then tested the assumptions by collecting data on specific indicators and anticipated intermediate outcomes related to key parts of the results chain. This combination internal/external evaluation resulted in key findings on how the Scorecard impacted fisheries councils and organizations, as well as recommendations for the development and release of the OC’s next Overfishing Scorecard.

Final Results of the Conservation Easements Learning Portfolio Available in January 2008!

In the United States, conservation easements are a popular private lands conservation tool, protecting an estimated 2.5 million hectares! Their use in Latin America, however, is rather recent, dating back to 1992. Conservationists in Latin America have adopted and adapted the tool, but, until now, they had not attempted to formally document its effectiveness in Latin America. With this in mind, a group of leading Latin American conservation organizations and professionals has worked collectively to better understand conservation easements and the conditions under which they are successful or not and why. The final results from this work will be available in January 2008 in both Spanish and English on FOS’s website, as well as on Latin American partner websites. The completion of these reports is a huge landmark for this group of dedicated individuals who came together nearly four years ago to understand how to improve private lands conservation in their countries. For the final results and other interim products, please continue to check FOS’s collaborative learning web page.

Groups Work to Halt Illegal Bushmeat Trade in Eastern Africa

Illegal hunting for the bushmeat trade in Eastern Africa is becoming as formidable a direct threat to wildlife as it has historically been in Western and Central Africa. To combat this threat, the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife Without Borders (WWB) program, and the College of African Wildlife Management in Mweka, Tanzania plan to sponsor 8 highly qualified fellows to complete a graduate curriculum in bushmeat mitigation at Mweka College. Under the MENTOR Fellowship Program, the fellows will work with experienced mentors during their studies and will hopefully then become leaders in bushmeat mitigation in the region. FOS facilitated the strategic planning workshop for the team that is developing the module and selecting the fellows and mentors. ABCG, WWB, and Mweka were excited about the planning process and associated products. The group plans to hold another strategic planning workshop in Eastern Africa and will likely use FOS’s help to incorporate adaptive management training into the fellows’ curriculum.

FOS Shares Its Experiences in Adaptive Management Training at the American Evaluation Association (AEA) Annual Conference

The leading professional association for evaluators, AEA, held its annual meeting in Baltimore, MD this year in early November. FOS shared its experiences in training and was awarded the honor of being part of the conference’s Presidential Strand. Sessions within this strand were seen as particularly relevant to the conference theme of Learning and Evaluation and received special recognition from AEA directors. FOS staff gave two presentations on its work in adaptive management training for conservation practitioners with the World Wildlife Fund and for conservation graduate students at the University of Maryland (UMD). FOS staff look forward to participating in next year’s AEA conference.

Highlighted Publications from 2007

  • Foundations of Success. 2007. Using Results Chains to Improve Strategy Effectiveness. An FOS How-To Guide.
  • Foundations of Success. 2007. Results Chains: A Tool for Adaptive Management. Audio-narrated PowerPoint presentation.
  • Foundations of Success, 2007. Module Syllabus: WWF Standards Step 1 Define and WWF Standards Step 2  Design (Guidance for WWF’s Online Campus).
  • Conservation Measures Partnership. 2007. Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation. Version 2.0. Check CMP’s website for the updated Standards, available in English, Spanish, and French.
  • Proyecto SEPA. 2007. Experiencias de Ecuador y México en la Implementación de las Servidumbres Ecológicas: Un Estudio de Caso. Check FOS’s collaborative learning web page for English and Spanish versions, available in early 2008.
  • Proyecto SEPA. 2007. Experiencias de Costa Rica en la Implementación de las Servidumbres Ecológicas: Un Estudio de Caso. Check FOS’s collaborative learning web page for English and Spanish versions, available in early 2008.
  • The Nature Conservancy. 2007. Conservation Action Planning (CAP) Resources.
  • WWF. 2007. Detailed Guidance, Tools, and Examples for Implementing the WWF Standards of Conservation Project and Programme Management.

Meet the Newest Member of the FOS Team: Ilke Tilders

FOS welcomes Ilke Tilders to its team. Ilke has a decade of experience in strategic planning, project development and management, evaluation, and fundraising for conservation programs around the globe and in Europe, Asia, and Africa in particular. Ilke is working with FOS to explore the potential for identifying and working with European partners to apply an adaptive management approach to their conservation work. From 1998-2000, Ilke coordinated strategic planning, fundraising, project management, reporting, and evaluations among several different projects that comprised WWF’s nature conservation program in Malaysia. From 2000 – 2007, she worked as a management consultant, helping projects and programs throughout the world improve their strategic plans and action plans. Ilke is a skilled facilitator and trainer, with extensive experience in project management areas, such as planning, fundraising, adaptive management, and stakeholder collaboration. Ilke is fluent in Dutch and English and conversant in French and German.

Please Give Us Your Feedback

Do you have feedback on this newsletter or our website? We would love to hear from you. Please send us an email.

Best wishes for the holidays and the new year,

– From the FOS – From the FOS Team

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