Improving the Practice of Conservation


Lessons from the Field December 2017

Photo by: Suzi Eszterhas

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way to be sure you’re not investing your precious conservation dollars in ineffective strategies? You’re in luck! There’s a framework set up to help teams assess their work and adapt based on new information. In this month’s Lessons from the Field, we bring you a shining example of what that framework, the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation, has done for one small NGO, Proyecto TitíThe Proyecto Tití team and FOSer, Armando Valdés, have been working and learning together for several years. Proyecto Tití has been a champion of the Open Standards as they continue to implement, monitor, learn, adapt, and share the result of their work with the conservation community.


Highlights include:

  • Charismatic monkeys
  • Adaptive management useful for small, community-focused NGO
  • The Open Standards helped prioritize strategies & funding with low budget
  • Strong leadership allowed team to stay on track as they institutionalized the use of Open Standards tools and Miradi Software

Read more: Lessons from the Field December 2017



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Adapting Strategies with the Balkan Lynx Recovery Programme


Using the Open Standards to plan and prioritize in the Munella Mountains.

The Balkan Lynx Recovery Programme has completed another loop around the Open Standards adaptive management cycle with the help of FOS Europe. The team took information gathered on their conservation strategies and considered it as they conceptualized and planned for the following year’s activities.

The team, including PPNEA, MES, KORA, and Euronatur, gathered in Munella Mountains, Albania for an annual review of their work. They use adaptive management to monitor their strategies and adjust as needed. During this year’s review, the Albanian team recognized that enforcing laws that keep the lynx safe is not all that’s needed to protect the animal. As a result, they’ve shifted focus onto the benefits that local people receive from coexisting with the lynx in the Munella Mountains.  

Annually revisiting their management plans allows the Programme to check in with their strategies and be sure they’re having the intending impact.


The planning team “caught on camera” where a camera trap snapped an image of the Balkan lynx.



The Balkan Lynx Recovery Programme works to protect the critically endangered Balkan Lynx within much of its known range (Macedonia, Albania, and Kosovo). Specifically, the Programme aims to: halt further decline of the Balkan lynx population and secure its survival in the protected areas of the Green Belt; generate knowledge needed for long-term conservation of the species; build the professional capacity needed to maintain the programme in the region and; improve partnerships, public awareness, and involvement in conservation.

Visit their Facebook page for updates and stunning camera trap footage! 





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CCNet Europe Celebrates 10 Years!

Congratulations to the Conservation Coaches Network (CCNet) Europe franchise for recently celebrating 10 years of jointly promoting the use of the Open Standards in Europe!

CCNet Europe and friends held their rally in the stunning Pyrenees mountains of Catalonia, Spain. The Fundació Catalunya La Pedrera hosted the event at their nature education center and hostel, where marvelous views could be seen from any direction.

Additional congratulations to the new leadership team, Xavier Escuté (Fundacion La Pedrera), Nico Boenisch (FOS Europe) and Daniela Aschenbrenner (independent). You’ll be missed, Ilke Tilders (FOS Europe)!

Participants in the 10-year anniversary rally included representatives from: WWF Spain, WWF Russia, WWF US, WWF NL, WWF Madagascar, WWF Danube Office, The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Conservation International, Foundations of Success Europe, MAVA Foundation, BBF, various County Admin Boards in Sweden, The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, Tour du Valet estate, Swedish Freshwater and Marine Agency, BIOM, Independent Consultants, and Miradi Software.

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Foundations of Success goes full-cycle with our organizational planning

For years, FOS has worked with conservation teams, stressing the importance of laying out their theories of change – how they expect theirconservation actions to lead to meaningful conservation change. Yet, for many of those years, we did not have our own explicit theory of change – we were not practicing what we preach.

In 2011, we realized we needed to change this! We made our implicit assumptions more explicit and developed a results chain to describe our main strategies, their intended impacts, and their interrelationships. We began monitoring indicators for each results chain annually via a scorecard that FOS staff filled out, based on our best understanding and often-incomplete knowledge of the longer-term effects of our work.

5 years later, in 2016, we hired an external evaluator to help us more accurately measure progress along our results chains, using primary data collected from our conservation partners. With the evaluator’s support, we struggled to better define our indicators and how we would measure them – we did exactly what our partners do when they are working on their conservation plans.

We gathered the data and learned a lot about where we were making progress and where we are not; where our theories of change held and where they did not; and where we cannot feasibly collect anything more than anecdotes and will have to accept some uncertainty. The process made us stronger as a team and, we hope, more effective.

Click here to learn more about this work. Thank you to all of you who provided your insights and to Kathleen Flower for her tireless work on this.

Results Chain Depicting Foundations of Success’s High-Level Theory of Change

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Comparing Frameworks for Conservation

Comparing Frameworks for Conservation

Conservationists are generally familiar with the concept of adaptive management, but did you know that teams use many different frameworks and associated tools to adaptively manage their projects? These frameworks are often complementary and can build upon each other to improve the practice of conservation. FOS team member Nick Salafsky joined other leading conservation planners in reviewing these frameworks in Conservation Letters. Published this month, the review Decision Support Frameworks and Tools for Conservation compares 5 frameworks for the adaptive management of conservation projects: Strategic Foresight, Systematic Conservation Planning, Structured Decision Making, Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation, and Evidence-Based Practice.

Read the review here!


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