Taking the time to reflect

Conservation is a rapidly evolving field. New threats constantly emerge that can undermine our efforts, while new technologies are developed that can be used in our work. For the conservation movement to be effective, we need to learn from what we do well, and share this learning widely – not just within organisations, but with local agencies and the wider conservation movement. The onus is on us to collaborate, learn and share as effectively as we can, and take heed not only of our successes but also our failures.

We consciously learn from our work in a wide variety of formal and informal ways, ranging from post hoc discussions of progress and informal presentations to formal annual impact reporting and thematic working groups known as communities of practice.

Analysing and reporting on lessons learned

Each year, reports from every project are analysed as we compile our annual conservation report, which captures lessons learned by all staff involved. However, more importantly, as a small and nimble organisation with effective communications infrastructure in place and regular face-to-face meetings, much of our learning is translated in a relatively dynamic and personal way.

We capture internal learning in an annual learning report, but also produce a range of externally focused reports and briefings on particular projects or issues.  Where appropriate we also publish findings from our projects in peer-reviewed journals, or help our partners to do this; you can find some examples of recent papers here. Additionally, we promote wider sharing of ideas across the conservation community through our flagship scientific publication, Oryx – The International Journal of Conservation.

Collaborating to exchange knowledge

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) works with a wide network of in-country partners, across a diverse and dynamic set of projects. This provides a fertile environment from which to better understand how conservation works.

Collaboration is at the heart of FFI’s operations, and this provides a key means for us to share ideas, disseminate lessons learned and in turn learn from others. We are active in external communities of practice on key themes in which we engage and are involved in developing wider position papers and manuals. We regularly take part in meetings, symposia and conferences to share our ideas.

Some of the most important and valued parts of our learning and dissemination come through our interaction with individual in-country partners and global coalitions. Working together on projects in the field allows for joint learning, and while we learn something from each partnership, we are in the lucky position to then be able to share these lessons with other partners, enabling effective cross-pollination between projects, countries and continents.