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Site Assessment Tool
How can sites carry out the assessment?
It is very simple. The WHSRN points of contact for every site are asked to coordinate the synthesis of information and the completion of the assessment. The assessment relies on the available information site partners have at the time and does not require additional information to be collected. In that sense, it should not constitute an unrealistic or overwhelming task for site partners and one that can be sustainable over time.
Photo Credit: Stuart Mackay
The assessments are built on the principle that site monitoring and evaluation is participatory, so the assessment should involve stakeholders interested in the conservation of the site, from scientists to managers to local authorities and communities. The end goal is to build consensus around the answers and the scoring and arrive at a final accepted version. The completion of the workbook can be carried out in several ways:
- A whole-day workshop (estimated time to complete the full assessment – half a day for the minimal level) where different participants (site managers and stakeholders interested in the conservation of the site) aided by a facilitator discuss and agree on the answers. This is a useful format for sites that do not have a wealth of information to begin with, so the assessment can serve as a knowledge inventory as well.
- Several experts carry out an information review and fill out the assessment independently. These individual assessments are later compiled and the result is validated by a larger group of stakeholders during a workshop, or electronically if unable to meet. This is a useful format for sites that already have a large amount of information, where it is more effective for a small group of people to review the existing information at first and reflect it on the assessment.
- A variation of the latter, where several experts convene in a workshop and fill out the assessment as a group. This is later validated by a larger group of stakeholders in a larger workshop. This option is recommended when experts themselves can easily convene physically.
- The assessment is filled by the site manager/site point of contact independently and then it is validated by stakeholders. This is the least desirable of the options because it is the least participatory.
In the assessment form, site partners need not be wary of reporting problems in fear of it being “badly ranked”, de-listed as a WHSRN site or lowering down of category; the most important thing is for WHSRN to understand what is happening and have the information necessary to help sites. Site points of contact are requested to voice any confidentiality or sensitivity concerns in the assessment form so that WHSRN takes the necessary precautions with the use of that information.
The WHSRN Executive Office has a limited level of assistance available to enable sites to carry out their assessments. On the other hand, BirdLife Partners (National Audubon Society, Bird Studies Canada, Nature Canada) are also committed to collaborate in the process, as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in individual refuges and the Canadian Wildlife Service.
If you want to start an assessment at your site, please call or email the WHSRN Executive Office and indicate if you will need assistance from the Office or WHSRN partners.