"Standard field research takes years, but political leaders will not usually wait that long to make decisions affecting the most biologically important areas of Earth. RAP gathers relevant scientific information quickly enough to aid in protecting such places from irreversible damage that can occur on a very short time scale.”
– Murray Gell-Mann, Professor, Santa Fe Institute, Nobel Prize, 1969
CI's Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) was created in 1990 to quickly provide the biological information necessary to catalyze conservation action and improve biodiversity protection. RAP surveys produce appropriate and realistic conservation recommendations suited to decision-makers’ timeframe.
RAP surveys, which typically last three to four weeks, bring together teams of
tropical field biologists to conduct rapid, first-cut assessments of the biological value of selected areas. RAP scientists collect and analyze the diversity of selected groups of organisms and use this information to provide recommendations for biodiversity conservation.
RAP results and data must be made available quickly to decision makers. RAP holds press conferences, public meetings with local stakeholders and publishes a preliminary report within a month of each survey. The final RAP Bulletin of Biological Assessment, with complete species lists, is published within a year of each survey.
RAP also helps develop local conservation leadership by conducting training courses in rapid biodiversity survey methods for local scientists and NGO staff. RAP conducts surveys in terrestrial, freshwater aquatic and marine ecosystems throughout CI's Hotspots and Wilderness Areas. RAP has also developed a Biodiversity Survey Network to provide information, tools, a discussion forum, and a network of resources for conducting biodiversity field surveys.