A Conservation Management Curriculum

Cultures of stability
Sustainability indicators
Behaviour change
Ecological plans
Community action plans 1
Community action plans 2
Social justice

Community partnership Coastal zone plans


Introduction to planning 

Management system mind maps lay out the logic of managing any process, from making an apple pie to running a transglobal company.

In our everyday life, we try to plan before we act.  We plan what or where to eat; where to go after work; what to buy; how long it takes to reach home. We all make so many plans throughout the day that we can truly say that a compulsion to plan with foresight is the outcome of the evolution of the human brain.

 Planning is the 'thinking' component' of our lives to get us to where we want to be, whether that is an actual geographical destination or a salary.  A plan consists of decisions about what we want to achieve and what we must do to be successful. 


Basically a conservation plan sets a target for the condition of a system, and schedules the work neccesary as inputs to the system in order to control positive and negative factors that influence the system's condition. The results, or outputs, of this work plan change the system towards the target condition, which is known as the outcome of the plan. If the inputs are not producing the desired outcome they are adjusted by the planners in an adaptive loop. This defines the planning cycle as a dynamic iterative process 


The first step to make a conservation plan for a species is to answer the following two questions.
Question 1 What is the measurable objective for the species as an ecological feature?
This can be answered by completing the following sentence ' "The objective is to maintain the red squirrel in a favourable condition where the population size, measured by ???? is within the range ?" The population can be measured using any of its attributes. These attributes will be monitored regularly as performance indicators to determine the success of management (see below).
Question 2 What are the major factors that have to be controlled to enable you to reach your objective?.
Factors can have a positive or negative effect on the feature. Each factor has to have a scientific rationale which can be used as a basis for scheduling management projects to control it.
The CMSi database of the CMSC defines a project-based approach to manipulate the controlling factors. That is to say a factor is addressed by one or more management projects, which define how the work is to be done, who is to do it, when they are to do it and what resources they will need. At the end of each management project the results are recorded and a monitoring project is scheduled to check what effect the management project has had on the condition of the feature.
The results of monitoring performance indicators is recorded as the outcome of the project. At any time, the effectiveness of management is related to the difference between the favourable state that was defined as the objective and the actual state determined by monitoring,
For those moving from a project based activity, Question 2 can be answered by reviewing all the projects currently underway and separating out those that have an effect on the the particular feature of interest. The important thing is to relate these projects to particular factors and to the over-arching objective.
So far, all of this can be done with spread sheets and topic outliners. What the CMSi does it use a relational database to channel a manager into the above logic. It systematically gets he/she to relate jobs to projects and projects to the control of specific factors linked with an integral monitoring procedure. In addition, filters can be applied to the database to produce job sheets and various reports on jobs and outcomes for individuals and groups. All of these elements of the CMSi support continuity of management and ensure that any changes in a plan are made against a well documented long term process of planning and recording.


Thinking about making apple pies helps in understanding the basic ideas behind planning and evaluating the effectiveness of our plans as a general planning/recording logic.

·         The objective in making the pie is to provide a pleasurable eating experience.  This eating experience is the desired outcome and it is measured (monitored) by its taste.

·         To meet the objective of  making an apple pie needs certain inputs: the motivation of the cook, a suitable time slot, the recipe, the ingredients, and the availability of an oven. The quality of each of these inputs (the resources) will have a significant impact on the state of the final product.

·         The process of making the pie includes a sequence of actions which comprise the method; following the recipe, preparing the apples, mixing the pastry, setting the oven and baking the pie for the required time at the required temperature. The quality of these processes will affect the result of precisely managing our actions according to the best procedure.

·         The output is the pie itself.

·         The outcome is the result of the pie i.e. the meal. The eating of the pie is in fact the objective of managing its production, and the properties of the pie, i.e. its state or condition, determine the quality of the eating experience.  A performance indicator to communicate the outcome to others would be whether or not the pie is fit to eat.


Effective planning along these lines is vital to the success of all projects no matter what the scale or our professional standing. Planning may feel like a frustrating delay to action, but often saves time.

Time is saved because planning helps:

  • To determine whether the task should be attempted
  • To work out the most effective way of managing our actions to  reach the target
  • To prepare to overcome things that stand in our way (controlling negative factors
  • To take advantage of opportunities available to do a better job (controlling positive factors) .

Planning is beneficial because it prompts us to:

·         Take stock of the current position

·         Identify precisely what is to be achieved as a target

·         Detail and schedule the 'who', 'what', 'when', 'where', 'why' and 'how' of achieving the target.

·         Evaluate whether the effort, costs and implications of achieving the plan are worth the achievement.

·         Consider the control mechanisms (for example reporting, quality or cost control) that are needed to steer a course of actions to achieve a target that is measurable.

·         Use a yardstick to measure how close we are to the target (monitoring with performance indicators).

·         Assess the impact of the plan on our organisation and the people within it, and on the outside world.


A plan is really a mind map which can be made as a simple ‘to do list’, a tree diagram or a computer database consisting of sets of actions on one-to-many linked forms.


2      Conservation management plans


2.1 The preliminaries


In order to make a plan for a nature site the manager has to gather information in order to:

·         Collate all the relevant facts about the site and its features.

·         Identify all the legislation and policies that will govern both the process and outcomes of management.

·         Identify or confirm the most important wildlife and natural features.

·         Identify all the important cultural features: historic, archaeological, religious, landscape, etc.

·         Develop objectives for all the important wildlife features.

·         Develop objectives for all important cultural features.

·         To identify the range of facilities or opportunities that the site will provide for visitors.

·         Identify monitoring and surveillance programmes to ensure that managers are aware, year to year, of the status of all the important features and the quality of the experience provided for visitors.

·         Identify all the management and recording activities required to manage the site.

·         Identify and justify all the resource requirements, both human and financial.

·         Combine all the above in a cohesive, logical, dynamic and iterative process, which endures that feedback from the actual outcome is used to evaluate the effectiveness of the inputs.


If a plan meets all the above functions it can:

·         Help resolve both internal and external conflicts.

·         Ensure continuity of effective management.

·         Be used to demonstrate that management is appropriate, i.e. effective and efficient.

·         Be used to bid for resources.

·         Share decision making, whenever appropriate, and to communicate these decisions and their outcomes to all interested individuals groups and organisations.


2.2 The actions


Planning can be thought of as a process that prioritises ideas, assesses their relevance and potential, and answers the following sequence of practical questions which are going to determine your actions.

·         What is the goal and how will it be reached?

·         What are the required resources and how much will everything cost?

·         What does the project timeline look like?

·         How will the project be checked  to find out if it is working and successful?


The necessary actions are then scheduled to answer five essential questions which define the action plan.

1.       Why are we here?

2.       What have we got?

3.       What is important?

4.       What do we want?

5.       What must we do?


The most important question is ‘What do we want?’ because it sets the management objective.  It is answered in the form of a vision statement written in plain language so that everyone is aware of the desired outcome of management. The following three paragraphs are a vision statement describing the desired outcome of managing a Welsh upland oak woodland on acid soil.

The entire site is covered by a high forest, broadleaf woodland. The woodland is naturally regenerating, with plenty of seedlings and saplings particularly in the canopy gaps. There is a changing or dynamic pattern of canopy gaps created naturally by wind throw or as trees die.


The woodland has a canopy and shrub layer that includes locally native trees of all ages, with an abundance of standing and fallen dead wood to provide habitat for invertebrates, fungi and other woodland species. The field and ground layers are a patchwork of the characteristic vegetation communities developed in response to local soil conditions. These include areas dominated by heather, or bilberry, or a mixture of the two, areas dominated by tussocks of wavy hair grass or purple moor grass, and others dominated by brown bent grass and sweet vernal grass with abundant bluebells. There are quite heavily grazed areas of more grassy vegetation. Steep rock faces and boulder sides are covered with mosses, liverworts and filmy ferns.


The lichen flora varies naturally depending on the chemical properties of the rocks and tree trunks within the woodland. Trees with lungwort and associated species are fairly common, especially on the well-lit woodland margins.

The woodland does not contain any rhododendron or any other invasive alien species with the exception of occasional beech and sycamore. There is periodic light grazing by sheep and very occasionally by cattle. This helps to maintain the ground and field layer vegetation but does not prevent tree regeneration.


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