4. Practical tools
The universal planning logic
Whether one is managing a nature reserve, a corner shop or a multinational corporation, the planning logic is the same. The plan says what has to be done to secure each asset.  In a conservation plan assets are described as features.
The sequence of actions for each feature (e.g. habitat, species, scenic view, historic building, footpath) is as follows:-
  • describe the objective by saying what the organisation wishes to do and how it will know when it has reached where it wants to be;
  • devise projects to achieve the objective;
  • schedule the work for each project;
  • record the outputs and outcomes of the work;
  • operate a system of reporting on the outcomes on a 'need to know' basis.
This schematic can be organised on various types of commonly used software, such as an office suite (e.g. MS Works), a topic outliner (e.g. MindManager), a simple relational database (e.g. SoftKey’s Project Manager) or an electronic diary.  
The simplest software to use is the My Works Project 'To Do' list in MS Works, which is bundled free with Windows PCs.
Planning by interrogation
Answering the following sequence of questions will produce a management plan for wildlife
Current state of habitat or species?
This is the latest measurement of an attribute of one of the features of the habitat or species; e.g. the number of individuals of a particular species per unit area.
Desired state of habitat or species?
This is a value of the attribute, such as the number of individuals per unit area, that indicates the population is thriving. This value defines the favourable state of the species as a management objective. The attribute is measured from time to time by means of monitoring project. These values are performance indicators of the effectivness of management in reaching its objective.
Routes to action to reach desired state?
These start with a list of the important factors that affect the condition or state of the feature in a positive or negative way (e.g. food plants; shelter; predators). Each factor is the basis of an action plan, which details the work required to influence the factor in order to move the population towards the its favourable condition or state. The following questions, addressed to each factor in turn, will produce information for projects that will comprise the action plan.  
What work has to be done? 
This is a summary description of the work that has to be done to meet a particular objective by controlling one of its factors.
How are you going to do it? 
This is a description of the work that has to be done in terms of procedures and methods. 
Who will do it? 
This is a list of the people who will carry out the work.
When will they do it? 
This is a calendar item that schedules the work to begin on a particular date, and says how long it will take.
What will they need? 
This is a list of any special tools or equipment required, and schedules when they will be needed.
Where will it be done? 
This describes where the work has to be done, and is linked to an annotated map of the site.
How much will it cost?  
This is the budget allowance for the work.
When was it actually done? 
Sometimes work schedules tend to slip, so it is important to record when the work was actually carried out.
Who actually did the work? 
Sometimes there has to be a change in manpower from the time the work was originally scheduled, so it is import to record those who actually carried out the work.
Any problems?
It is important to record any unforseen problems associated with the work, particularly those that prevented its successful completion.
What did it actually cost?
Did the project fall within budget? 
State of habitat or species before and after?
It is important to monitor the effect of the work on the state of the habitat or species. This is achieved by measuring an attribute of the habitat or species at a suitable interval after the work was carried out, and compare it with the state at the time the work was done. The difference between before and after is a performance indicator of management.
Who needs reports?
Reports on the action plan and its outcome should be sent to all those people and organisations, such as sponsors, strategic planners and members of the community.