The Practice of Enduring Conservation

Originally posted 8/14/2009

Welcome to the Enduring Conservation Outcomes website and to my first blog entry. I am excited about sharing my experiences developing Enduring Conservation Outcomes and my thoughts about what “enduring conservation” means.

As you have probably read, Enduring Conservation Outcomes (ECO) is a consulting and training team with expertise in conservation planning, monitoring, adaptive management and conservation training. While the firm has been in existence for less than 3 months, I have almost 30 years experience in the conservation field, the last 19 of those years as the Regional Scientist for Southern US Region of The Nature Conservancy. In that role, I gained a broad range of experience in conservation. With my associates and advisors, ECO brings an even broader range of experience to projects.

In my years in conservation, I have learned a lot about what practices result in meaningful, long-term conservation success. The practice of enduring conservation can be structured by four questions: are the right conservation actions being implemented?, are these conservation actions having their intended outcomes? will these actions provide lasting conservation? and are the conservation actions being implemented at the right set of spatial and temporal scales. These are hard questions to answer. What is disappointing in the conservation world, in my experience with both agencies and non-profits, is that these questions are not consistently asked and less often acted upon.

The practice of enduring conservation takes place at all scales. It is just as important to address these questions when controlling invasive species, restoring a wetland or designing an educational program for a single conservation area as it is when working toward increasing conservation funding or changing policy at a state or national scale. And conservation success is greatly enhanced when it is integrated across these scales.

And enduring conservation requires more than just science. Conservation is not enduring if it does not include collaboration with the social, economic and political spheres, empowering stakeholders and public understanding. I believe that this is one of the strengths of Enduring Conservation Outcomes, that not only does it provide good science but to help to find ways to successfully implement good science.

Moving from The Nature Conservancy to being an independent consultant has given me more time to read and think about conservation. This unstructured time, in part, has come from the lack of contracts at the early stage of starting a company. But it has also come from the greatly reduced email flow, phone conversations and conference calls and the frequent reorganizations and priority-setting exercises. It is strange but amazingly refreshing.

So I will be sharing with you my thoughts on monitoring, adaptive management, conservation planning, melding my experience with The Nature Conservancy with work I am currently engaged in. And I will probably add a few book reviews, summaries of science publications and travelogues. 

I am pleased that you have joined me in this blog and in the journey building this company.