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Project planning involves developing a conservation strategy, which is essential for establishing a clear link between the conservation work and the impact it aims to achieve. Developing a conservation strategy is also needed to help assess progress and raise funds.

Developing a conservation strategy can be challenging, however, because every situation is unique, complex, uncertain, and will change over time.

The purpose of the Project Planning for Wildlife Conservation best practice is to provide conservationists with a standardised approach that will help them to create the strongest possible conservation strategy based on the best available information.

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This series provides practical guidelines to help conservationists achieve a greater impact. The best practices in this series have been designed to be used together, with shared terms and complementary content. These combined best practices provide a complete set of guidelines for planning, funding, managing, monitoring, and reporting on conservation work. Each best practice comprises of a manual and a set of supporting documents that are free for anyone to use, distribute and adapt to suit their needs.

This best practice can be used to develop a strategy for conservation work of any scale, focus, or timeframe. For example, it could be used to create a strategy for conserving mangrove forests globally, or for addressing plastic pollution on a beach. This best practice can also be used to develop strategies for conservation work at an organisational, programme, or project level. Finally, this best practice can be used as a supporting resource for training and facilitation.

This best practice can either be used as a stand-alone approach, or in combination with the other best practices in WildTeam’s Wildlife Conservation Professional Series. In this series, the Project Planning for Wildlife Conservation best practice is used during the plan phase of a project, to help develop the conservation strategy section of the Project plan.

The conservation strategy section is then used to create the monitoring and evaluation section of the Project plan following guidance in the connected Monitoring and Evaluation for Wildlife Conservation best practice. The Project plan is then carried out following the guidance in the Project Management for Wildlife Conservation best practice.

For all best practices in this series, it is important that conservationists use them intelligently, deciding for themselves how to adapt and apply the guidance to best suit their needs.


The Strategy Development for Wildlife Conservation best practice provides guidance for developing a strategy for any type of conservation project. This practice is based on, and builds upon, the open standards for the practice of conservation (also called the conservation standards.

This best practice begins with a set of overarching principles to guide the project team when developing their strategy and then describes each step of the strategy development process. The 3 steps of the process are:

  • Assessing the current situation so that the project team can better understand and document the situation they are trying to change.

  • Planning the impact the project team want to achieve.

  • Planning the work the project team will carry out to achieve the impact.

Each step in the process is further broken down into a set of activities. The steps and activities for creating a conservation strategy are sequential, but also iterative, as the project team may decide to repeat a previous step or activity using new information or understanding they have gained.

The Adaptations section at the end of this best practice outlines how the project team can adjust their conservation strategy to:

  • Link different levels of conservation work such as programme and project work.

  • Split work between different projects or organisations

  • Mitigate negative effects which may occur as an unintended consequence of the planned work.

  • Incorporate umbrella terms such as human-wildlife conflict and climate change.

  • Incorporate ecosystem services and human well-being to show how the work is benefiting people as well as wildlife.

  • Re-establish biodiversity targets in situations where wildlife that used to be present has been lost.


  • Create a current situation diagram

  • Create a planned change diagram

Download the manual for a link to access this worksheet.

Conservation theory of change diagram

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