Marc Hockings is vice-chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), responsible for WCPA’s program of Science, Knowledge and Management, which includes work on management effectiveness. He co-authored the IUCN report Evaluating Effectiveness: A Framework for Assessing the Management of Protected Areas with Sue Stolton and Nigel Dudley in 2000 (; a revised version is due for release in mid-2006.

Hockings is directing a WCPA-led project to analyze all studies of management effectiveness at protected areas worldwide, including distilling the most useful indicators. The project, which also involves WWF, The Nature Conservancy, and the World Bank, is scheduled for completion by September 2007. Below, Hockings discusses the project with MPA News:

MPA News: What is the status of your project, A Global Analysis of Protected Area Management?

Hockings: The project commenced in July 2005. The current focus of work is on collecting and collating information on management effectiveness evaluation systems and where they have been applied. We currently have information on application of 40 different evaluation systems in over 2600 protected areas around the world.

MPA News: For many people, the concept of evaluating management effectiveness means examining how successful a protected area is. What constitutes “success” for management of a protected area?

Hockings: It is a complex issue. To some extent, “success” like “beauty” is in the eye of the beholder. In the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas Guidelines, management effectiveness evaluation is defined as the assessment of how well the protected area is being managed – primarily the extent to which it is protecting values and achieving goals and objectives. The term “management effectiveness” reflects three main themes:

  • Design issues relating to both individual sites and protected area systems;
  • Adequacy and appropriateness of management systems and processes; and
  • Delivery of protected area objectives including conservation of values.

Some work undertaken by graduate students working on the issue of “success” in protected area management has revealed that different people and groups involved in protected areas and their management can have very different views on what constitutes “success” and how it might be assessed.

MPA News: Managers worldwide are faced with choosing among several assessment methods to apply to their sites. What factors should they consider when making their decision?

Hockings: The first issue that a manager might consider in choosing an evaluation system is the reason why he or she is undertaking the evaluation and the scope of the evaluation. There are many reasons why people want to assess management effectiveness. These different purposes may require different assessment systems and varying degrees of detail. Funding bodies, policy makers and conservation lobbyists may use the results to highlight problems and to set priorities, or to promote better management policies and practices by management agencies. Managers may wish to use evaluation results to improve their performance or to report on achievements to senior managers, the government, or external stakeholders. Local communities and other stakeholders, including civil society, need to establish how well their interests are being taken into account. Increased emphasis on evaluation is in part due to changes in society, especially the increased demand for accountability, transparency, and demonstrated “value for money”.

In terms of scope, the approach taken for a system-wide assessment of all protected areas in a country will be different from an assessment of an individual site. Some systems like the RAPPAM methodology ( are designed for system-wide application, while others like the Enhancing our Heritage approach ( are designed for site-level application.

A second issue to consider is the level of resources that are available to undertake an evaluation and whether it is intended as a one-off assessment or an ongoing process integrated into the management system for the site.

A third issue is the extent and depth of information that is available from monitoring programs, and what will be possible to collect in the time available. As a general rule, more effort should be put into monitoring and evaluation for those protected areas that possess greatest value and significance, or that are subject to the greatest threat.

For more information:

Marc Hockings, School of Natural Rural Systems Management, The University of Queensland, Gatton, QLD 4343, Australia. E-mail: