Millions of dollars are spent annually on biodiversity conservation projects at natural areas around the world. Managers of natural areas must achieve a balance between taking conservation action, evaluating the effectiveness of actions taken, and monitoring the general status of biodiversity conservation targets and the threats they face. Conservation practitioners often struggle with decisions regarding the allocation of limited resources among these competing needs. Many conservation projects have only a limited monitoring component while other projects have an inexplicably high investment in a single type of monitoring. We offer a conceptual framework to help guide conservation practitioners towards a logical allocation of resources between taking action and different types of monitoring depending on the situation that they are facing. The framework consists of a decision tree that includes an explicit evaluation of three questions: (1) Are there substantial threats facing the conservation entities?; (2) Are there clear and feasible actions known to be effective at abating identified threats?; and (3) Does the project team have high confidence in their understanding of the overall conservation situation? Based on this tree, we present five scenarios that illustrate a range of logical allocations of resources between taking action and different categories of monitoring.
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