Strengthening Monitoring and Evaluation of Multiple Benefits in Conservation Initiatives that Aim to Foster Climate Change Adaptation
As the need to monitor and evaluate progress on climate change adaptation is increasingly recognized, practitioners may benefit from applying lessons about effective monitoring from the conservation field.
This study focuses on monitoring conservation interventions that aim to foster climate change adaptation by assessing: what ways practitioners are adopting best practices from monitoring and evaluation (M&E) in conservation; what practitioners are monitoring in relation to reported outcomes; how monitoring comprehensiveness varies in practice and what factors enable more comprehensive monitoring; and practitioner views on what could improve M&E of adaptation actions.
We conducted this study using a portfolio of 76 adaptation projects implemented across the United States and employed a mixed-methods design that included document analysis, an online survey, and semi-structured interviews. The majority (84%) of projects reported social outcomes at project completion in addition to ecological outcomes (100%), but monitoring plans focused primarily on ecological and biophysical changes. Only 21% of projects connected monitoring metrics to a theory of change linking actions to expected outcomes. Involvement of an external research partner was identified as a key factor in supporting more comprehensive monitoring efforts.
Results provide applied insights for enhancing delivery of social and ecological outcomes from adaptation projects, and suggest research pathways to improve monitoring and effectiveness of climate-informed conservation.