Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation

The Conservation Measures Partnership developed the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation (OS), a system that incorporates theories and principles of adaptive management from a variety of disciplines to produce a planning and evaluation process broadly applicable across temporal, geographic, and programmatic scales. OS allows teams to systematically select conservation targets, identify threats, develop mitigation strategies, and produce theories for observed changes. It also produces tangible goals and objectives, defines progress metrics, and facilitates ongoing adaptive management by documenting results of strategies, allowing methods to be refined. Using OS, installation managers could examine threats and strategy ratings to prioritize objectives and solutions, and reduce funding needs.
The Institute for Wildlife Studies began implementing the OS framework to provide guidance to the Department of Defense in helping to plan for endangered species recovery on San Clemente Island. We used the endangered San Clemente loggerhead shrike as a single-species project model to identify threats and develop strategies to mitigate those threats and implement conservation measures. 

Because many of the threats and strategies for conserving shrikes would overlap with those for conserving SCI’s other natural resources, a solid base for an island-wide plan had already been established. We then applied the OS framework to the entire island. The proposed island-wide plan would expand on the shrike plan by including species such as the threatened San Clemente Bell’s sparrow, focal conservation species San Clemente island fox, recently delisted island night lizard, and the wide variety of endemic and/or listed flora of SCI. Team members included representatives from vertebrate and invertebrate recovery programs on SCI, botanical recovery and management programs, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management, and SCI military operations.

Open Standards flow chart Conservation measures link

In 2018 IWS was contracted to develop a management plan for the threatened San Clemente Bell’s sparrow.  We will use the OS approach to develop the general framework and to capture the important considerations for the management plan, and then use available data and input from a variety of sources to help complete the document.

Meet the IWS Open Standards Team Lead

Andrew teachingAndrew Bridges, Ph.D., has been an ecologist and program manager with the Institute for Wildlife Studies for 11 years.  He has been involved with Open Standards conservation planning since 2013 and became a CCNet Conservation Coach in 2016. Andrew has instructed workshops teaching Open Standards principles in the United States, Canada, and Ecuador. He was an invited speaker at the 2016 International Conference on Island Evolution, Ecology, and Conservation on Terceira Island, Azores where he demonstrated how Open Standards can be applied by conservation biologists working in island ecosystems. He also has given presentations on the use of Open Standards at The Wildlife Society Annual Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2016 and International Congress on Conservation Biology in Cartagena, Columbia in 2017. He is currently the Co-Leader for the Conservation Coaches Network North American California-Sierra Franchise and is facilitating Open Standards conservation planning efforts on the California Channel Islands.