The Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation are a product of the collaborative work of the Conservation Measures Partnership. As a starting point, CMP members used the results of the Measuring Conservation Impact (MCI) Initiative, a 2002 study that reviewed experiences in seven fields – conservation, public health, family planning, international development, social services, education, and business – to determine common concepts of and approaches to good project design, management, and monitoring. The findings of MCI were compiled into a series of principles for project cycle management/adaptive management. Building on these results, individual CMP member organizations contributed their experience in project implementation to refine the Open Standards and focus them more specifically on biodiversity conservation. Version 1.0 was released in 2004, with subsequent updates in 2007 and 2013.
Many member organizations within CMP have worked hard to operationalize the Open Standards, and their efforts have been a driving force in helping the Standards become the common and accepted practice within the conservation community. This is an ongoing, dynamic process that has included the development of organization-specific standards that draw heavily on the CMP Open Standards, development of more detailed guidance materials for each step, training of various project teams across the globe in parts of the Standards, and implementation of the Standards by these teams. Moreover, the Conservation Coaches Network (CCNet) and its regional franchises are increasingly serving as a mechanism to promote and refine the Open Standards globally. This wide-scale application of the Open Standards has provided CMP with helpful feedback and suggestions for improvement.
The Open Standards have also served as the framework for the development of the Miradi Adaptive Management Software Program (Miradi means “project” in Swahili). Many of the figures in this document were generated with Miradi. The software walks practitioners through several steps of the Open Standards. For example, the software provides teams with a tool for visualizing and documenting: what they want to conserve; what threats and opportunities are affecting their conservation targets; which threats are of greatest significance; how their actions are believed to influence the situation at their site; and how they will operationalize their strategic plan via a work plan and budget. Volunteers have translated Miradi into several languages, with other translations underway. More recently, Miradi Share has come online, a program that facilitates more seamless file sharing among team members, allows for files to be shared more widely with the conservation community, and permits the rolling up of data across various projects in a portfolio.
Since Version 2.0’s release in 2007, CMP has helped organize two “Measures Summit” meetings, bringing together a wider community of practice of organizations interested in conservation measures and adaptive management. CMP has also broadened its membership to include conservation NGOs, donors, and government programs. Consequently, a broader collective experience informs the continuing evolution of the Open Standards.