Identify Conservation Goals and Objectives

Definition of a Goal

Clear goals facilitate (and in fact make possible) the articulation of specific management objectives and measures of success. Management objectives translate goals into measurable components.

As the description of a desired state or condition of a landscape, a well-defined goal should answer the question, "What should the land look like?"

At the outset, the description of a goal can simply be a few pages of text. “We envision that within the next two decades…” Goals are useful for two important reasons: 

  1. They are open descriptions of desired land states that can be discussed and agreed upon by stakeholders; 
  2. They provide targets for measures for assessing progress and documenting success.

What should the land not look like? 

What landscape conditions are undesirable?  A clear understanding of the negative state is also useful in designing measures of success and communicating (in a contrary way) both the opposite of success and the consequences of management failure. Often this will be closely aligned with the threats to important targets and land values

Examples of Goals

  • Protect the nesting population of Red Cockaded Woodpeckers on the preserve by maintaining the appropriate forest type and structure.
  • Redesign the landscape around the historic buildings at Hastings Farm to resemble what it would have looked like in 1880, specifically in terms of the ratio of forest to pasture and the species of trees.
  • Restore the park’s central watershed by removing the dam, revegetating the steep slopes, and working with neighbors to reduce non-point source pollution issues.

Management Objectives

Management objectives flow directly from stated goals. A management objective is a clear description of a measurable standard, desired state, threshold value, amount of change, or trend that you are striving to achieve for a particular population or habitat characteristic; it may (ideally) also set a limit on the extent of an undesirable change.

As part of the adaptive management cycle, management objectives have the benefit of:

  • Focusing and sharpening thinking about the desired state or condition of the resource.
  • Describing to others the desired condition of the resource.
  • Determining the management that will be implemented, and set the stage for alternative management if the objectives are not met.
  • Providing direction for the appropriate type of monitoring.
  • Providing a measure of management success.
  • Identifying resource needs.

Examples of management objectives

  • Increase the area dominated by long leaf pine at Wood Creek Preserve by 30% between 2009 and 2019.
  • Reduce the number of reported conflicts between snowmobile users and skiers by 50% at Dunlow Meadow State Park between 2009 and 2012.
  • Maintain at least 5 nesting pairs of Bald Eagles at Long River Management Area from 2009 to 2019.

Organize Conceptual Models


Sound Science LLC assists many land management organizations with site conservation planning, goal setting, land management, and measures of success.

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