Decision Support Frameworks and Tools for Conservation

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  • Mark Schwartz
  • Carly Cook
  • Robert Pressey
  • Andrew Pullin
  • Michael Runge
  • Nick Salafsky
  • William Sutherland
  • Matthew Williamson
The practice of conservation occurs within complex socioecological systems fraught with challenges that require transparent, defensible, and often socially engaged project planning and management. Planning and decision support frameworks are designed to help conservation practitioners increase planning rigor, project accountability, stakeholder participation, transparency in decisions, and learning. We describe and contrast five common frameworks within the context of six fundamental questions (why, who, what, where, when, how) at each of three planning stages of adaptive management (project scoping, operational planning, learning). We demonstrate that decision support frameworks provide varied and extensive tools for conservation planning and management. However, using any framework in isolation risks diminishing potential benefits since no one framework covers the full spectrum of potential conservation planning and decision challenges. We describe two case studies that have effectively deployed tools from across conservation frameworks to improve conservation actions and outcomes. Attention to the critical questions for conservation project planning should allow practitioners to operate within any framework and adapt tools to suit their specific management context. We call on conservation researchers and practitioners to regularly use decision support tools as standard practice for framing both practice and research.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12385
JournalConservation Letters
Issue number2
Early online date15 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

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