Conservation Impact

Zoos and aquariums supporting field conservation need to ensure that their investments and activities are making a significant positive impact. Developed by Chester Zoo and WAZA, this Project Conservation Impact Tool is based on the methodology outlined by the Zoo Measures Group [1].


The tool is designed to provide an easy format for project coordinators to summarise project achievements and progress made against objectives and for these to be evaluated for their conservation impact in a standardised manner.


Please click on the following link to download the Project Conservation Impact Summary Form (800 KB; select "save file"). We recommend that you install the latest version of Adobe® Reader before downloading this form.


How to use the form

The form has been designed to be sent to the project coordinator once a project has finished, or at regular intervals for ongoing projects. The project coordinator then fills in the relevant sections and returns the completed form to the zoo or aquarium supporting the project.


The form, complete with the project coordinator's information, should then be sent to one or more reviewers. The form has been designed so that the reviewer(s) can see the previous scores given by the project coordinator; however, if you wish the reviewer(s) to score blindly, the project coordinator's scores can be deleted using the "Admin Reset" button on the last page of the form.


The form automatically generates a conservation impact score for each different component of the project – referred to as "project type" (research, education, community, etc.) based on the input of the project coordinator and the reviewer(s).


The impact assessment process is a tool to guide adaptive management. It should exist ideally within a suite of processes that ensure initial high standards of project design and clarity of aims and objectives. This form is designed to help guide zoo and aquarium conservation managers to critically evaluate project achievements, and use this process to inform future project support and design. The scores provided should be used as only one of the indicators to implement these adaptive management techniques, helping highlight areas that require closer scrutiny but being judged only in context with the other information supplied in this form.


When and what to evaluate

Zoos and aquariums should consider when best to evaluate a project; this will usually correspond to the period over which the objectives are expected to be achieved. A PhD study, for example, would best be evaluated when it is complete, rather than after one year when the project will still be in its infancy.


There also needs to be clarity on what is to be evaluated. Support may have been provided for a new vehicle, for example, but a vehicle itself does not have a conservation impact; the wider project that it is a part of should best be evaluated. Conversely, for large and holistic projects, the component parts of the project may be sufficiently distinct to be better evaluated as separate project elements.


The future

Evaluation of conservation impact provides a process where lessons can be learnt, methods honed and strategy focused on where the greatest gains for conservation can be made. This method aims to quantify conservation impact and works towards more effective and precise analysis and reporting of these impacts to aid continual improvement of best practice.


In a factory production line input and output are relatively easily quantified, in the field of conservation these measures are much more difficult to quantify. The Project Conservation Impact Tool makes steps to provide this quantification – if you do adopt this process, please provide feedback to so that, as a community, we can continue to evolve these methods.



[1] Mace, G. M., Balmford, A., Leader-Williams, N., Manica, A., Walter, O., West, C. & Zimmermann, A. (2007) Measuring conservation success: assessing zoos' contribution. In: Zoos in the 21st Century: Catalysts for Conservation? (ed. by Zimmermann, A., Hatchwell, M., Dickie, L. A. & West, C.), pp. 322342. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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