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Monitoring and evaluation in conservation: a review of trends and approaches

Monitoring and evaluation in conservation: a review of trends and approaches

Conservation Biology 19(2): 295-309

There is growing recognition among conservation practitioners and scholars that good project management is integrally linked to well-designed monitoring and evaluation systems. Most conservation organizations have attempted to develop and implement monitoring and evaluation systems, often with mixed results. One problem seems to be that organizations are trying to build their systems from scratch, overlooking lessons learned from the many efforts to develop useful and practical monitoring and evaluation approaches. Thus, we undertook a review of monitoring and evaluation approaches in conservation and other fields including international development, public health, family planning, education, social services, and business. Here, we present our results for the field of conservation. We categorized the considerable variety of monitoring and evaluation approaches into four broad purposes: basic research; accounting and certification; status assessment; and effectiveness measurement. We focus here on status assessment and effectiveness measurement. Specific lessons that emerged follow: different monitoring and evaluation needs require different approaches; conceptual similarities are widespread among prevailing approaches; inconsistent language impedes communication; confusion among monitoring and evaluation components hinders practitioner ability to choose the appropriate component; and monitoring only quantitative biological variables is insufficient. We suggest that the conservation community continue support of collaborative initiatives to improve monitoring and evaluation, establish clear definitions of commonly used terms, clarify monitoring and evaluation system components, apply available approaches appropriately, and include qualitative and social variables in monitoring efforts.

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Accession: 012324403

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DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2005.00594.x

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