Working together to identify shared goals and then to develop an action plan to achieve them is fundamental to successful partnerships. Knowing and incorporating what matters most to the communities shows genuine respect. There are tools available through The Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation that provide a framework for identifying goals and developing clear conservation plans. There is also extensive technical guidance available to help teams define meaningful measures and create practical monitoring and evaluation plans. However, before turning to technical matters, get to the heart of what matters to your partners.
When identifying resources for protection and management, give special attention to cultural resources that are vitally important to communities, and look for ways to incorporate them along with natural resources into conservation plans. For example, when selecting indicator species to track ecological health, forego the academic urge to choose an obscure species that has no recognized value to the community. Instead, select species that are socio-culturally relevant. Highlighting the protection of a totem or aumakua species or a species that provides food and livelihoods can easily elicit 100% community support of conservation efforts. In some instances, it also results in richer data. For instance, fishers often possess valuable historic knowledge and ongoing monitoring of relevant species can be integrated into their daily lives.