Abstract: There is a growing debate over the extent to which integrated conservation and development projects are contributing to conservation. One of the chief reasons for this debate is that there are few if any standardized and cost‐effective methods for defining and measuring conservation success so that different projects can be assessed over time or compared to other projects in different ecological and socioeconomic contexts. Current biologically based approaches to measuring conservation outcome have a number of practical limitations that preclude their use by typical project teams. As a result, most project teams do not measure project outcome and thus find it difficult to determine whether their interventions are working. To address this problem, we have developed an approach called threat reduction assessment (TRA) that measures project outcome. We explore the background for this approach, focusing on program evaluation in other disciplines, including engineering and public health; next we develop a model of the conservation and development context. We then propose one way in which this approach might be implemented through the calculation of a TRA index. Finally, we present and analyze examples of the approach in use in projects from Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and Madagascar. We found that although the TRA approach has the theoretical disadvantages of being a proxy measurement of biodiversity and is subject to bias, it has the theoretical advantages of being sensitive to changes over short time periods and throughout a project site, and of allowing comparison among projects in different settings. Furthermore, it is practical and cost‐effective because it is based on data collected through simple techniques, it is directly related to project interventions, it is readily interpreted by project staff, and it can be done in retrospect. Although the TRA approach will need further refinement, it could be an important complement to biological approaches to measuring conservation project success.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Aug 1, 1999
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