Evaluation is a process of developing performance metrics to track progress in achieving goals, reducing threats, leveraging assets, and completing strategies. Adaptive management concerns the process an organization puts in place to learn from the results of evaluations and to adjust program strategies accordingly.
Over the last two decades, hundreds of experiments in ecosystem management have developed across the country and the world. Research demonstrates that these initiatives are more likely to succeed when they evaluate progress toward clear and measurable goals and use this information to adapt their activities over time. Unfortunately, most practitioners avoid evaluation and adaptive management, or do it poorly. This can mean that they waste time and money pursuing ineffective strategies, or if they are effective, are unable to demonstrate success.
At EMI we are developing ways to improve the impact of ecosystem and community-based projects and create a new generation of adaptive organizations by building on-the-ground capacity for evaluation and adaptive management. Our work in this area includes:
- Conducting research on the evaluation of social, ecological and process improvements in theory and in practice
- Providing user-friendly guides and tools for practitioners to develop an evaluation program for their organization, agency or collaborative
- Leading trainings in the process of evaluation and adaptive management
- Facilitating a group, step by step, in developing their own program for evaluating and adapting over time
You can use the drop-down menu above to explore our evaluation tools and activities or access key areas through the links below.
- Why evaluate? Evaluation increase project efficiency and effectiveness and builds support by documenting success. Click here for information on these and many other benefits of evaluation.
- What are the challenges of evaluation? Unclear objectives, complex systems, and limited capacity can make evaluation very challenging. Click here for information on these and other challenges of evaluation and how to deal with them.
- What is EMI’s step-by-step evaluation process? To do evaluation you need a simple, manageable set of steps and products. Click here for more information on the EMI evaluation process.
- What resources and tools are available to help my organization evaluate and engage in adaptive management? We have developed a workbook to guide you through the process, an interactive web program to create your own evaluation plan, a sourcebook of sample measures of progress, a compilation of helpful web links, and more. Click here to access these resources and tools.
- What services does EMI offer in evaluation and adaptive management? We provide on-site assistance to groups across North America in the public, private, and non-profit sectors.
- What do we know about ecosystem- and community-based evaluation in theory and practice? There is a rich literature on proposed indicator frameworks and approaches to measuring success. We have also learned from on-the-ground projects about what is feasible and how they monitor and adapt. Click here to learn more about our research.
- How is EMI’s evaluation work funded? Funders for our evaluation efforts include the McIntire-Stennis Forestry Research Program administered by the USDA Cooperative State Research Service, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.