Alternatives for the Rest of the Course

Originally posted 2008 Oct 22 by george hess

After our last class, and in response to a feedback comment, I'm (george) wondering about the best direction for the rest of the course and I'd like your input. First, here's the comment.

I am a bit disappointed that the course seems to be focusing strictly on CMP strategies and analysis of specific properties. It is valuable to experience the process and try it first hand for a property, but I think we accomplished that with TFR. I would like to have discussion on some other related topics/opinions/papers. I guess I was expecting we would focus more on the "indicator" end of measuring conservation success. Coming up with indicators still seems like a rather arbitrary process to me... is there any literature on guidelines for developing meaningful measures?

While I don't agree completely with this comment (the fact that we haven't closed TFR indicates that we don't get it yet), there is a good point here ... which is that we've focused on a single option - the Conservation Measurements Partnership (CMP) strategy. What we've been doing shows us where to put the indicators, but not how to select and develop them - though that is a later part of the process. If we continue down the current path - applying the CMP process to three other properties - I don't see how we'll be able to look at indicators in much depth - we'll spend all our time on the "front end" as we have for TFR. (And, yes, there are guidelines for developing indicators - they are in the newest CMP training manual in an abbreviated form that pretty much mirrors what I saw in my look at indicators a few years back.)

An alternative would be to actually CONTINUE with Temple Flat Rock and look at developing indicators for that example, as well as alternative approaches (report cards and such) that we could apply. To do that, I would ...
  • get you some literature on indicators to read for next week (31 Oct)
  • get you a Miradi diagram of what I think we've decided for TFR
  • break into small groups and brainstorm indicators for several key items at TFR (31 Oct)
In future classes, we could also talk about the kinds of indicators we might need for the other properties, based on your assessment of the conservation goals - at least we could look at indicators for the conservation targets, which are probably the hardest to derive.

Following weeks, we'd continue looking at indicators, get some other articles about report cards and such, attempt to apply them to TFR, other properties, and then do some evaluation. The final product (ie, our presentation to TLC) would be an evaluation of the various approaches and a discussion of their merits and demerits.

To do this, we would have to stop the in-depth look at the three other properties, though as indicated above the effort put into that to date still has good value.

I'd like to see some electronic discussion about this below.
  • Should we change direction as described?
  • Are there viable alternatives I haven't outlined?
  • What haven't I thought about here that we need to consider?

Obviously, we need to act relatively quickly.


Please add your comments here - keep adding to the bottom of the page - put your name and the date at the start of each comment.

Steve A. 10-23: I like the idea of branching out a little. I think Friday's panel discussion may give us a better sense of what might work for one or more organization, but not another. Coming up with options is good. I don't think coming up with indicators is arbitrary though. I think it's the most crucial part of the process. We have to have something to measure right?

Kate: I like the idea of looking at some other concepts just to give us some idea of what other processes are used. However, I do agree with Steve in that I think we will get a better idea Friday if there are actually other concepts being used by smaller organizations or are there just a few that are used by the larger ones like TNC. I think working on the first steps for the individual properties is helpful since it is allowing us to see if this process is really applicable to most if not all cases (for example, I am having trouble with coming up with threats for the Kuenzler Property that are actually manageable).

Kathryn: I'm always for expanding the tool bag. I, too, have been a little troubled by the strong focus on CMP standards without having explored other strategies for measuring conservation success. Can CMP be merged in some fashion with other strategies? We should be able to start answering that question after tomorrow's panel discussion. Do you have to a certain way of measuring success when conserving resources inhabiting an easement, compared to lands for which you have fee title ownership? Identifying conservation goals and assessing conservation effectiveness between Temple Flat Rocks and the other 3 properties could possibly answer that question. And are the CMP standards more applicable to larger land areas than what we're working with for our course assignments? I could list other rhetorical questions that have been popping into my mind. Bottom line, we don't know what the best approach is for assessing the conservation efforts of public land trusts and I thought that was the purpose of this class ... to identify an array of possible conservation measurement strategies, all of which would help land trusts think in a more comprehensive, holistic manner than perhaps they have been.

Debbie: The CMP process and Miradi tool seem to focus of measure of success as being indicators. However, I look at success as broader, being whether the organization is meeting its vision and goals. Which is more qualitative than quantitative. So I think it would be good to look at this.

Kate (10/29/08): I had a couple more thoughts on this over the weekend. After hearing what a lot of the panelists had to say on Friday, it seems as though most of the organizations do not focus on specific management goals for specific properties. I was shying away from using the miradi program and FOS design. However, the more I think about it, the more I like how it helps create a focus, but can be used for both the broad picture and the specific properties. It seems to be combining a lot of the ideas from other readings about measuring success. One other thing that came to mind was the question of who are we developing these measurements for? - Should they be developed so the landowner (whom may not have any biological knowledge) or volunteers can implement or will the measurements that we design be created for professionals to measure?

Mary (10/29/08): After the panel discussion, I am very interested in other methods of measuring success that may be employed already. Maybe we should have researched that in the very beginning... I love the community/environmental justice components of the Whole Measure approach and think it would be great to use in conjunction with CMP/FOS/Miradi. ..and, if I may be selfish, I am very interested in successful ecosystem management in conservation, but I don't think we have the time for it.

Emily (10/30/08): The Miradi work has been valuable and I think I've learned a lot with it, but I too would like to see us expand our work a bit. Maybe we could take step back and examine what other methodologies other types of organizations use to measure their organizational success. I think we're realizing that the Miradi does not work absolutely perfectly for what we're doing, so it could be nice to see what aspects from other methodologies can translate to what we're doing. Speaking for myself, I'd enjoy writing a short paper about this or maybe just doing some literature research (which allows everyone to research sources on their own and so we would have a greater collective breadth of understanding as a class). Then later we could write papers on how measuring succes of land trusts is different than conservation organziations like TNC and WWF. This would help us prepare for our final class when we will be giving recommendataions, and it may help us get on track for some sort of publication. I do think it would be valuable to complete the CMP/FOS/Miradi process for the regional conceptualization and for at least one parcel-based conceptualization (perhaps TFR). I've found value in working on the regional model; maybe others would like to see what the conceptual model looks like at this point?