Outcomes, not implementation, predict conservation success

Valerie Kaposa1 p1 c1, Andrew Balmforda2, Rosalind Avelinga3, Philip Bubba1, Peter Careya4 p3, Abigail Entwistlea3, John Hopkinsa5, Teresa Mullikena6, Roger Safforda7, Alison Stattersfielda7, Matt Walpolea3 p2 and Andrea Manicaa2

a1 UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, 219 Huntingdon Road, Cambridge, CB3 0DL, UK.

a2 Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

a3 Fauna & Flora International, Cambridge, UK.

a4 Centre for Ecology and Hydrology Monks Wood, Abbots Ripton, UK.

a5 Natural England, Peterborough, UK.

a6 TRAFFIC International, Cambridge, UK.

a7 BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.


To use more effectively the limited resources available for conservation there is an urgent need to identify which conservation approaches are most likely to succeed. However, measuring conservation success is often difficult, as it is achieved outside the project time frame. Measures of implementation are often reported to donors to demonstrate achievement but it is unclear whether they really predict conservation success. We applied a conceptual framework and score-card developed by the Cambridge Conservation Forum (CCF) to a sample of 60 conservation activities to determine the predictive power of implementation measures versus measures of key outcomes (later steps in the models defined in the CCF tools). We show that assessing key outcomes is often more difficult than quantifying the degree of implementation of a project but that, while implementation is a poor predictor of success, key outcomes provide a feasible and much more reliable proxy for whether a project will deliver real conservation benefits. The CCF framework and evaluation tool provide a powerful basis for synthesizing past experience and, with wider application, will help to identify factors that affect the success of conservation activities.

(Received September 24 2008)

(Reviewed January 08 2009)

(Accepted March 09 2009)


c1 UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, 219 Huntingdon Road, Cambridge, CB3 0DL, UK. E-mail val.kapos@unep-wcmc.org

p1 Also at: Cambridge Conservation Forum, c/o Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 3EJ, UK.

p2 Current address: UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Cambridge, UK.

p3 Current address: Bodsey Ecology Limited, Huntingdon, UK.