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The Five Phases of Conservation Project Management

To learn more about Project Management for Wildlife Conservation, take a look at our expert led course by clicking here.

Effective wildlife conservation projects are structured through a series of phases, each designed to ensure comprehensive planning, execution, and evaluation. These five phases - Plan, Fund, Prepare, Implement, and Close - guide conservationists from the initial idea to the successful completion and assessment of their projects.

The Planning Phase

The Planning phase is the foundation of any conservation project. This is where the project's goals, objectives, and strategies are defined. During this phase, conservationists must gather and analyse data to understand the current state of the ecosystem or species they aim to protect. This involves detailed research and consultation with experts to develop a robust Project Plan.

A well-crafted Project Plan includes the scope of work, timeline, budget, and resource allocation. It also outlines potential risks and mitigation strategies. By setting clear, achievable goals, the Planning phase ensures that everyone involved understands the project's direction and objectives.

The Funding Phase

Once the Project Plan is in place, the next step is to secure funding. The Funding phase involves identifying potential donors and crafting compelling funding proposals. This requires a deep understanding of the project’s significance and its expected impact on biodiversity.

Effective fundraising is about more than just securing money; it's about building relationships with stakeholders who share a commitment to conservation. This phase often involves presenting the project to various organisations, government bodies, and private donors, demonstrating how their contributions will lead to tangible environmental benefits.

Elephants at a drinking hole

The Preparation Phase

With funding secured, the Preparation phase begins. This phase focuses on mobilising the project team and ensuring all necessary resources and logistics are in place. It involves hiring and training staff, procuring equipment, and setting up operational protocols.

Preparation also includes refining the Project Plan based on any new information or changes since the planning phase. This phase ensures that the team is fully equipped and ready to begin the project's implementation, minimising disruptions once fieldwork starts.

The Implementation Phase

The Implementation phase is where the action happens. Here, the conservation strategies and activities outlined in the Project Plan are put into practice. This phase involves coordinating fieldwork, managing teams on the ground, and continuously monitoring progress.

Effective project management during this phase requires adaptability. Conservation projects often face unforeseen challenges such as weather changes, logistical issues, or new threats to wildlife. Managers must be prepared to adjust plans and strategies to keep the project on track.

Regular progress reports and updates are crucial during implementation, helping to maintain transparency with stakeholders and ensuring that any issues are addressed promptly. The focus remains on achieving the project's goals within the established timeline and budget.

The Closing Phase

The final phase, Close, involves evaluating the project's outcomes against its initial goals. This includes comprehensive data analysis to assess the impact on biodiversity and the effectiveness of the conservation strategies employed.

Closing also involves completing all project documentation, reporting to stakeholders, and ensuring that any remaining resources are appropriately managed. This phase provides an opportunity to reflect on lessons learned and to celebrate successes.

Moreover, the Closing phase is critical for planning future projects. By documenting outcomes and sharing insights, conservationists can build on the current project’s successes and address any shortcomings in future efforts.


The five phases of conservation project management—Plan, Fund, Prepare, Implement, and Close—provide a structured approach to achieving sustainable conservation outcomes. By following this framework, conservationists can ensure that their projects are well-organised, adequately funded, effectively executed, and thoroughly evaluated.

This phased approach not only enhances the likelihood of success for individual projects but also contributes to the broader goal of preserving biodiversity and promoting environmental sustainability.

To learn more about Project Management for Wildlife Conservation, take a look at our expert led course by clicking here.

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