Evaluating perceived benefits of ecoregional assessments

Conserv Biol. 2012 Oct;26(5):851-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2012.01898.x. Epub 2012 Jul 24.


The outcomes of systematic conservation planning (process of assessing, implementing, and managing conservation areas) are rarely reported or measured formally. A lack of consistent or rigorous evaluation in conservation planning has fueled debate about the extent to which conservation assessment (identification, design, and prioritization of potential conservation areas) ultimately influences actions on the ground. We interviewed staff members of a nongovernmental organization, who were involved in 5 ecoregional assessments across North and South America and the Asia-Pacific region. We conducted 17 semistructured interviews with open and closed questions about the perceived purpose, outputs, and outcomes of the ecoregional assessments in which respondents were involved. Using qualitative data collected from those interviews, we investigated the types and frequency of benefits perceived to have emerged from the ecoregional assessments and explored factors that might facilitate or constrain the flow of benefits. Some benefits reflected the intended purpose of ecoregional assessments. Other benefits included improvements in social interactions, attitudes, and institutional knowledge. Our results suggest the latter types of benefits enable ultimate benefits of assessments, such as guiding investments by institutional partners. Our results also showed a clear divergence between the respondents' expectations and perceived outcomes of implementation of conservation actions arising from ecoregional assessments. Our findings suggest the need for both a broader perspective on the contribution of assessments to planning goals and further evaluation of conservation assessments.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / economics
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis*
  • Environment
  • Perception*
  • Planning Techniques
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires