• Adam Barlow

What is conservation impact?

Updated: Jul 19

Conservation impact is the positive change caused by conservation work. Conservation impact can be categorised as changes to:


  1. Biodiversity, e.g. an increase in tigers.

  2. Threats degrading the biodiversity, e.g. a reduction in poaching.

  3. Behaviours driving threats, e.g. a reduction in shop owners selling tiger parts.

  4. Influences driving behaviours, e.g. a decrease in people believing tiger parts can be used to cure illnesses.


How do I incorporate conservation impact into my conservation strategy?

Conservation impact is achieved by, and should not be confused with, conservation activities. For example, educating school children about tiger conservation would be an activity and the change in tiger conservation knowledge of those school children would be the conservation impact.

The links between conservation activities and conservation impact should be documented in a planned change diagram, also called a theory of change. The general structure of a planned change diagram can be seen below, in which the conservation activities are represented by work packages and the conservation impact is represented by planned biodiversity target results, threat results, behaviour results, and influence results.




An example of a planned change diagram is provided below. In this diagram, the type of arrow connecting each element on the diagram represents the confidence level of that linkage. The confidence level is in turn determined by the information source the link is based on. For example, a link based on a scientific research paper would have a higher confidence level than a link based on the opinion of a project team member.



Conservation impact is made up of direct and indirect results

Direct results are those that are caused by the conservation activities alone. For example, the direct impact of a training workshop on grant writing would be an increase in the number of people with improved grant writing skills.


Indirect results are those that are cause in part by the project work packages, and in part by other results that have not been generated by the project. For example, the indirect impact of a training workshop on grant writing may be an increase in the conservation funds raised by trainees, as this result would also be dependent on the availability of funds provided by donors.



Free resources to help plan, document, and manage conservation impact

  • Full guidelines of how to document conservation impact can be found in the free best practice Strategy Development for Wildlife Conservation, which can be downloaded for free here.

  • Creating a Project plan is part of a wider project management process, guidance for which can be found here.

  • If you want to find out how to work with stakeholders to create a shared conservation strategy you can download the free Stakeholder Engagement for Wildlife Conservation best practice here.

  • Finally, if you want to use your planned conservation impact to develop a grant application, you can download the free Grant Writing for Wildlife Conservation best practice here.

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