When is the best time to fill in information gaps when developing a conservation strategy?

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This post is in answer to the following question:

Question: When is the best time to fill in information gaps when developing a conservation strategy? When information is lacking (contributing factors, behaviours...) or when confidence in causal links is low, you can plan a research agenda and highlight information that you quickly need and collect data on in order to strengthen your project strategy. So, if my understanding is correct, in that case, research is a work package part of the project. But in order to design a relevant theory of change, you may need this info before planning for activities. In that case, should this information be collected in the pre-project phase during stakeholder consultations? But you may not have yet secured a budget for this? I find it a bit difficult to know when info should be collected in the pre-project phase and when it can be part of the project itself (as per the "do something" principle).


Answer: I would always recommend creating a research work package as part of the project work to fill in those information gaps alongside other work to achieve impact. Depending on the information need you can often fill in a lot of gaps through stakeholder consultations to get enough information to carry out impact related work while you are improving your info base. In every case I would also suggest really thinking about why you think you need better information – what will you do differently if you had that info? Otherwise, you can end up spending a lot of time and money collecting interesting but useless information while the conservation situation degrades further. For example – you don’t need to know why animals decide to eat people/livestock/come into villages to start managing that – because you already know how that conflict manifests itself and can think of ways to reduce those harmful affects to humans and wildlife. If you post a draft ToC I and other members may be able to give more specific advice.

Adam Barlow

Executive Director, WildTeam UK

I help run a UK charity that builds the capacity of conservationists to plan, implement, monitor, and report on their work. I also have a fair bit of experience in tiger and sea turtle conservation.
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