By measuring what matters, we can make better decisions — for both people and nature.

At Conservation International, metrics is an initiative to define and implement indicators for monitoring the impact of our work on both nature and people. Information from metrics helps us focus our efforts in the right places, track progress toward our goals and communicate the results.

Scientists from across the organization have brought their technical expertise — and years of experience in ecology, hydrology, economics, international development, policy and evaluation — to the design and testing of relevant metrics. We also partner with universities and local researchers to share data sets, monitor specific activities and review our findings.

Our plan

Guide our priorities

Conservation International is locating the world’s most valuable places for conservation. Using data on the location and extent of ecosystems, as well as the services they provide to people, we identify and map places that require conservation attention. For example, we might identify river basins that provide drinking water to communities living downstream — or areas of mangroves that protect people living along a coastline from the damaging effects of storms.

Measure our impact

Conservation International is demonstrating the effectiveness of its programs in conserving nature and improving human well-being. Our metrics quantify how our work helps people. For example, we measure the contribution of our actions in protecting the natural places that provide people with the most benefits. We also track those benefits, including access to fresh water, resilience to climate change, provision of food and livelihoods. Furthermore, we develop tools to assess the effectiveness of national policies on conservation — and the impact of agriculture, mining and other economic activities on the health of ecosystems.

By the numbers

Over 180 protected areas evaluated

In 2013, the management of over 180 marine and terrestrial protected areas supported by Conservation International programs was assessed — providing critical information on whether these areas are maintaining their intended benefits for nature and people.

Participative bushfire mapping
© CI/photo by François Tron

Deciding where to focus our actions

We are testing our monitoring approach in two geographies: Madagascar and Cambodia.

In both geographies, we are working to map and measure:

  • the state of the natural ecosystems that provide essential services that support human well-being;
  • the effective governance of this “natural capital;”
  • the sustainable production of agriculture, fisheries and extractive industries;
  • and human well-being.

This information will support our engagement with government, donors and other stakeholders. It will also inform Conservation International’s own strategy in each geography.

For example, indicators from Madagascar demonstrate that people are highly dependent on nature for much of their well-being and livelihoods. People in Madagascar suffer from very high rates of poverty and food insecurity, low levels of access to safe water and relatively high vulnerability to climate-related events. Collectively, these metrics provide a snapshot of the overall state of natural capital, governance, production and human well-being in the country. This knowledge can help plan and communicate our work. It can also help us evaluate the success of our conservation actions and investments and track progress toward helping improve the livelihoods of Malagasy people.