Define Measures and Create a Monitoring and Evaluation Plan

  1. Develop monitoring and evaluation plans for selected indicators to track and assess strategy implementation, outcomes, and impacts to nature and people, inform adaptive management, influence key actors, mitigate risk, and contribute to the evidence base.
  • List of indicators to be monitored
  • List of measures to be generated
  • Monitoring and evaluation plans

Any conservation strategy needs to be able to demonstrate progress towards its ultimate goal if stakeholders, teams, and donors are to stay engaged and committed. In the case of strategies that seek to catalyze systemic change, that progress can be subtle, even incremental at times. Monitoring and evaluation can help you test for hypothesized changes, identify capacity gaps and learning needs, and make adaptive management decisions as your strategy progresses.


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  • Define monitoring and measures needs.

  • Define and prioritize information needs for adaptive management.

  • Identify indicators and measures.

    • For all indicators, define the following:

    • Be explicit about how the indicator will be used.

    • Select indicators that inform multiple audience needs first.

    • Consult with local stakeholders.

    • Evaluate the indicators.

  • Evaluate needs and available human and data resources.

    • Monitoring and evaluation plans should make use of data already being collected by others.

    • Consider hiring contractors to fill capacity gaps.

    • Consider community-based monitoring.

  • Develop monitoring and evaluation plans with appropriate research design.

    • Your monitoring and evaluation plan should specify the following elements:

    • Be clear when data are needed to inform key decisions.

    • Implement the social safeguards.

    • Conduct peer review.

    • Consider the timeframe of expected changes.

    • Use a qualified expert to help with the research design.

    • Select a research design commensurate with the level of certainty required for your audience.

Minimum Standard Questions
  1. Will the monitoring and evaluation plan ensure that essential information gaps are filled?
  2. Has the existing strength of evidence informed a conservation strategy’s risk and leverage as it relates to the level of investment in monitoring and evaluation plans?
  3. Are there indicators for both positive and potential negative outcomes for both people and nature, which were developed in partnership with potentially impacted stakeholders?
  4. Does the monitoring and evaluation plan include collecting baseline data?
  5. Has there been full exploration and consideration of secondary data from government, NGO, indigenous organizations, community organizations, and other firms or agencies for environmental and socioeconomic data to avoid duplicating data collection efforts and opportunities to fill gaps?
  6. Have specific audiences, the intended use of information, and needed level of rigor been defined for each indicator?
  7. Have plans been created that clearly define the design, collection, management, evaluation, and reporting procedures and responsibilities for data?
  8. Do the monitoring and evaluation plans clearly articulate how the data will be analyzed, updated, and then shared to relevant audiences in culturally appropriate ways?
  9. Do the monitoring and evaluation plans provide a realistic budget sufficient for monitoring over a long enough period of time to detect anticipated outcomes and impacts?
  10. Will monitoring design and evaluation approaches (e.g. research design and statistical methods) and sampling be conducted by qualified professionals?
FAQS Show All
If we can collect information with no defined user or purpose right now, but that might useful in the future, should we collect it?
If we have a step in a theory of change or results chain that has not been identified as having a measures or monitoring need, is that a problem?
What extra precautions are required for research involving human subjects?

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