Improving the Practice of Conservation

 

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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Lessons from The Field March 2017

Collaborating for Conservation

Becky Cole-Will (Acadia National Park) accompanies Fred Johnson (IMMWHA) on a worm-along

Becky Cole-Will (Acadia National Park) accompanies Fred Johnson (IMMWHA) on a worm-along

Ever wonder what happens in the intertidal zone – that area that is above water at low tide and under water at high tide? As it turns out, lots happens! And lots of people use and benefit directly or indirectly from this area teeming with life. On February 28, 2017, many of these people came together to discuss and work collaboratively to help keep the intertidal zone healthy. This workshop, organized and hosted by Acadia National Park and the Schoodic Institute, with support from Maine Sea Grant and FOS, was the second in a series of workshops that are bringing together a wide range of stakeholders, including clammers, wormers, researchers, park officials, educators, and local and state government representatives. This group is collaborating on how to best manage and conserve the intertidal zone for existing and future generations. Using tools and processes promoted under the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation, stakeholders worked to clarify key actions for the immediate future and the rationale for these actions. One action sure to foster greater understanding

Workshop participants sort through results expected from a strategy to cultivate relationships

Workshop participants sort through results expected from a strategy to cultivate relationships

and collaboration is the “ride-along” (or “clam-along”) where representatives from different interests get a chance to accompany one another on work outings. Reactions to the workshop and process were overwhelmingly positive – as an example, one stakeholder expressed, the process was “really, really valuable. I feel very grateful to have been here! I liked the…collaborative emergent organization.” While relationships between harvesters and law enforcers in the region have been tense in recent months, this workshop and the alliances formed through it are a bright spot showing the strength of open dialogue and a common language and solid tools for framing discussions and making decisions.

 

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To protect or neglect? Design, monitoring, and evaluation of a law enforcement strategy to recover small populations of wild tigers and their prey

FOS team member, Arlyne Johnson, and colleagues published a powerful article illuminating the importance of going “full cycle” in the Open Standards process. Published in Biological Conservation in 2016, the paper To protect or neglect? Design, monitoring, and evaluation of a law enforcement strategy to recover small populations of wild tigers and their prey illustrates how a results chain and associated theory of change was used to evaluate the effectiveness of a recent law enforcement strategy to recover tigers and their prey in Lao PDR.

Find the article here!

Photo credit: WCS Lao PDR

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Vote for Open Standards Case Studies! Learn from Your Colleagues!

CMP and CCNet judges have narrowed down 5 cases for the Open Standards Case Study Competition. Now, they need help from the conservation community to select the top 3. This is a great opportunity to learn from others around the world who are using the Open Standards! (Each case is only 2-5 pages). Click here to learn more and vote!

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