This protocol for making and operating a management plan is based on the UK model initiated by the Nature Conservancy Council in the 1970s to guide its nature site managers in the preparation of long term plans for national nature reserves. At that time is was a paper system to be held in filing cabinets. Since then it has been developed as the 'Conservation Management System' software, which is currently promoted and developed by the UK Conservation Management System Consortium.

Conceptual model of a conservation management system

Detailed planning procedure

A Describing the assets
B Organising a plan
......Data model
......Defining objectives
C Operating a plan
......Scheduling what has to be done
.......Recording what was done
.......Reporting what was done



This normally sets the reserve into its geographical area, and compares the reserve with series of reserves of similar nature elsewhere in the Country/Vicinity.


(a) Name
(b) Location
(c) Brief description
(d) Area and boundaries
(e) Access
(f) History of establishment
(g) Bye-laws
(h) Permits
(i) Grid references
(j) Maps
(k) Collections of museum material
(1) Collections of photographs


(a) General.
Reasons associated with the overall policy of the body managing the reserve.
(b) Specific.
Reasons associated with the establishment of the particular reserve.


(a) Topography
(b) Drainage and hydrological interest
(c) Geology
(d) Climate
(e) Soils
(f) Vegetation
(g) Fauna
(h) Land-use history
(i) Archaeology and ancient regime monuments
(j) Research projects
(k) Public and recreational
(1) Sporting rights
(m) Pest control

(a) Bye-laws
(b) Public right of way (d) Any other rights or privileges
(c) Permits


Details of the present position and the likely demand for wardening facilities.


This chapter lays down the responsibility for implementing the whole plan and/or specific parts of it.


Statements of any committee responsible for management advice, and of organizations or individuals from whom specific information can be obtained. The records will include periodic or progress reports, as well as records of research activity designed to monitor the effects of management practice. It is also important to record detailed statements of management decisions that have been taken, paying particular attention to recording the reasons why that decision was taken.


A date will be specified for the renewal of the plan. The references will include all literature quoted in the plan. Authorship of each section (where the plan has been written by several people) should be given. Acknowledgments may also be included.


(A) With all copies of the plan
Lists of plants Lists of animals
Map(s) showing items detailed in the scientific management programme
Map(s) showing items detailed in the estate management programme.

(B) With the master copy of the plan only
Copies of legal documents relating to the reserve
Records of committee decisions
Records of expenditure
Records of authorization of research and survey projects

This section of the plan defines the locality factors such as the geographical position, geology, climate and hydrological status. This is the basic framework within which the ecosystems have developed, and it allows for broad comparisons to be made between areas in order to base predictions for the reserve on experience gained elsewhere. The classification of the ecosystems represented on the reserve will usually depend upon the plant communities and on the soil types, both of which are static and relatively easily identified. Animal species tend to be of less use in classification since they are so numerous that few people could identify them and many of the species are mobile. After the classification the dynamics of the situation should be assessed. What are the forces holding the ecosystem in its present form, or in what direction is it changing? What is the distribution of species in the ecosystem, or what is the effect of time going to be upon the wildlife that we wish to conserve today? These are biological attributes, and in the first two chapters of this book we discussed analyses that attempted to answer such questions. But equally important is the effect of man upon the ecosystem. What are the research, educational and recreational potentialities of the reserve, and what will be the effect of exploiting such potential on the ecosystems? The first section of the management plan is thus descriptive, containing a summary of the environmental and biological attributes of the reserve and of the human interest. It is also predictive in that the experience gained from research and study of similar ecosystems can suggest what changes may occur and how to plan the exploitation of the wildlife in the broadest sense.

The second section of the plan deals with the aims of management and the ways in which the aims of management are interpreted in a practical manner bearing in mind the locality, environmental and human factors. The formulation of the management operations requires experience to be drawn from many disciplines, since there are not only the biological aspects of the reserve to consider but also the sociological and economic factors. Wildlife conservation is a long-term form of land-use. Although the management plan is written for only a limited period of time (often five years, less often 10 years), the implications of management practice will not always be felt within the period of time covered by the plan. For example, an operation such as scrub clearance may result in a changed ecosystem for half a century. Thus, during the time taken for the effects of a management those responsible for making those decisions may have nothing further to do with the management of the reserve. It is therefore essential that there is good documentation. The minimum that is required is a statement of the reasons why a management decision was taken. Why, for example, were sessile oaks to be planted instead of any other species? It is however, better to document both sides of a decision, stating why the opposite view was rejected.



A CMS is simply a recording and filing tool that aids and improves the way in which heritage green assets are managed and kept in a favourable condition. Its prime function is to keep track of the inputs, outputs and outcomes of projects to meet measurable objectives. The aim is to promote efficient and effective operations, and allow recording of the work that was done and reporting on whether or not the objective was achieved. A CMS also enables the exchange of information about methods and achievements within and between organisations. These are essential components of a CMS of any scale, whether a national park, or a village pond.

Technically, a CMS is a project-based planning and recording system aimed at managing conservation features within acceptable limits of variation. A feature is any component of the environment that has to be managed e.g. a footpath or a species. A 'project' is simply a programme of work leading to an output e.g. 'construct a footpath', 'patrol an area' or 'record a species'.

Projects are work plans that control specific factors that help or impede the attainment of management objectives. Each project includes a description of a process, e.g. the work to be done, when and where it is to be done and the inputs of resources required.

When a project is completed, what was actually done is recorded. This is an output.

The outcome of a CMS is the state of the feature at the end of the project and is measured by performance indicators.

Performance indicators are quantitative or qualitative attributes of the features e.g. numbers of a species, and they are measured by special monitoring-projects in order to gauge success in reaching the management objectives.

Copies of all projects with their inputs, outputs and outcomes are retained in the CMS to provide a progress- register, and an archive to support managerial continuity.

In summary, the prime function of a CMS is to enable conservation managers to control the operational functions of a management plan as a feedback system or work-cycle by:-
· identifying and describing, in a standard way, all the tasks required to control the key factors (positive of negative), which influence the condition of the features, and thereby maintain the features in a favourable condition;
· producing and budgeting various work programmes to control the factors, for example five-year plans, rolling- plans, annual schedules, financial schedules, and work schedules for specified categories of staff;
· providing a site/species monitoring system to check the effectiveness of the plan against the specified objectives;
· facilitating the exchange of management information by reporting, within, and between, sites and organisations;
· using feedback from monitoring to improve the management system.

Objecives and their factors

Objectives are basically a qualified statement of what an organisation wants to achieve in the long run. They are the measurable targets of work schedules. The activities directed at reaching set of objectives constitute the conservation management plan.

State the desired condition of habitat or species

Each objective defines the condition (state) of a habitat or species that is favourable for its long-term maintenance. For example: 'to maintain species x in a favourable condition where the numbers in any year range between a and b'.

Say how the condition is to be measured?

The condition of a habitat or species is checked out by choosing one of its attributes that is easily measured. For example, the obvious attribute of a species is its population size.

What factors affect the condition?

A management factor is anything that affects the condition of the habitat or species in either a positive or negative direction. For example, rainfall and rabbits will affect the condition of a grassland habitat.



A project describes the work that has to be carried out in order to meet an objective. All projects are aimed at controlling management factors.

Most of the day-to-day work on a nature site involves projects organised to control the major factors, positive or negative that influence the ability of management to reach its objectives. For example, addition or removal of farm livestock will affect the condition of grassland. The integrity of fencing is a vital related factor.

A work schedule describes the resources needed, the methods to be used, and when they are required, to control a factor or monitor a plan. This work plan is produced by answering 9 questions about resources, methods and timing. It describes the inputs to the project.

What is the project?

How important is it?

What has to be done?

How will it be done?

Who will do it?

When will they do it?

What resources are needed?

Where will it be done?

How much will it cost?


As a project is carried out its progress is charted by answering six questions that summarise the outputs of the work.

What was done?

When was it done?

Who did it?

Any problems?

What did it cost?

Where was it done?


Reports on the state of the habitat or species in relation to the conservation plan and the plan’s progress/performance against its long-term objectives, are produced according to who requires information at a strategic level. These reports normally involve making available the following information.

Monitor the plan

Monitoring projects are organised to chart the year on year progress of the plan. They yield performance indicators that can be used to assess progress and efficiency of the plan by:-

Measuring condition of habitat/species

The most important role of monitoring projects is to assess the condition of a habitat or species by measuring one or more of its attributes so that the proximity to the objective may be assessed. For example, a monitoring project for a grassland habitat would be to measure sward height at a particular time of year.

Checking progress with milestones

A milestone is basically a check on progress to be carried out at a particular time or stage of a plan. For example, a milestone could be set at a particular date in order to check that a particular job had been done according to plan.

Measuring condition of factors

Since objectives are reached by controlling factors it is important to keep a check on the most important factors that affect the condition of the habitat or species. For example, even though it cannot be controlled, rainfall would be a suitable factor to record to produce a year on year base line for grassland. Where rabbits are controlled to establish a favourable condition of grassland, counting them would measure their condition as a limiting negative factor.

The following reports may be produced on a need to know basis

Plan overview

Desired condition of habitats/species?

Actual condition of habitats/species?

Resource inputs (work plans)

Decription of site