Adaptive Management for Conservation Projects

Nicholas School of the Environment

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Nicholas School of the Environment


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About the course

In recent years, there has been great convergence among conservation organizations in thinking about how best to plan and implement conservation actions. The member organizations of the Conservation Measures Partnership (CMP) have pooled their collective experience in designing, implementing and appraising their conservation projects to develop a set of project cycle or adaptive management Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation that they believe are fundamental to effective conservation.

Adaptive management has been adopted by many leading conservation organizations, including CMP member organizations, such as The Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund, the National Audubon Society and others. There is strong evidence that this trend will continue and that the skills and tools required to implement adaptive management will be critical for project managers looking to enter the field; for project teams and organizations aiming to show strong results; and for donors who want to measure the impact of the projects and programs they support.

The purpose of this course is to equip conservation professionals and graduate students with the skills necessary for effective adaptive management in the conservation sector. The course is based on the CMP Open Standards. While this framework for planning, implementing, monitoring, learning from and adapting conservation projects is taught to many practicing conservationists, adaptive management training is rarely incorporated into academic conservation programs. Practitioners and current graduate students in conservation-focused programs should both begin learning the practical and applied processes (i.e. adaptive management) and skills (e.g. viability assessment, threat rating, identification of root causes of threats to biodiversity, etc.) that are essential for achieving conservation results.

  • Day One: Adaptive Management History and Theory; Introduction to the Open Standards; Step 1a: Team, Scope, Vision, & Targets; Step 1b: Target Status and Goals; Course Social
  • Day Two: Step 1c: Threat ID and Prioritization; Step 1d: Project Situation
  • Day Three: Step 2: Strategy Brainstorm and Selection; Results Chains; Monitoring Plans
  • Day Four: Step 3: Workplans and Reporting in Miradi; Closing the Circle


Class will be held on Duke University campus in the Levine Science Research Center, Room A158, on Research Drive in Durham, NC. This course will begin at 9:00 am and adjourn at 5:00 pm Monday through Thursday. A finalized agenda will be available as the course start date approaches. Dress is casual and we recommend that you bring a light sweater or jacket to wear in the classroom for your comfort. We will have a social on Monday afternoon after class for all course participants, instructors and staff, and there will be a shuttle to take you back to the hotel following this event.


Marcia Brown

Marcia is a Senior Program Officer with FOS and plays a lead role in training and capacity building for conservation programs in strategic planning and monitoring and evaluation. Marcia co-leads graduate courses in adaptive management at the University of Maryland (UMD) and Virginia Tech and has ...

Norman Christensen

Christensen's research focuses on the effects of disturbance on structure and function of populations, communities and ecosystems. On going studies include an analysis of patterns of forest development following cropland abandonment as these are affected by environment, stand history and plant de...

Adaptive Management for Conservation Projects at Nicholas School of the Environment

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Coursalytics is an independent platform to find, compare, and book executive courses. Coursalytics is not endorsed by, sponsored by, or otherwise affiliated with any business school or university.

Full disclaimer.

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