Framing Conservation Conversations.

Natural systems and species face persistent and changing threats, resulting in degradation of habitats and declines in species populations. Conservation programs aim to reduce these threats or mitigate their impact.

For conservation efforts to be relevant, effective and efficient, it is important to understand the main conservation threats to the species or ecosystem in the area of interest, and design conservation initiatives that address these threats and are guided by programmatic targets of sufficient scale and intensity.

Conservation programs should constantly scrutinize the nature and magnitude of threats. Solid monitoring and evaluation systems are critical in this regard as they describe conservation efforts comprehensively and quantitatively, check that they are focusing on the right threats, assess program performance, and provide direction for course corrections.

Under the GSLEP program, a Threat Reduction Assessment (TRA) framework has been developed, which can serve to identify the main threats to snow leopard populations in a particular setting and inform appropriate conservation responses. Specifically, the framework provides real and hypothetical examples of the kind of threats snow leopards, their prey, and their habitats face across Central Asia, and suggests key interventions to address those threats.

The framework can serve to set program objectives and guide monitoring and evaluation efforts, in support of a regular assessment of the implementation, relevance and results of snow leopard conservation programs. The use of the TRA framework is recommended to develop effective and efficient conservation initiatives, and as necessary improve them by addressing implementation challenges or by designing interventions that are better suited to address critical threats.