Conservation Partnerships: Indicators of Success

Rebecca S. Toupal, University of Arizona
Michael D. Johnson, NRCS Social Sciences Institute University of Arizona

Social Sciences Institute Technical Report Release 7.1


Conservation partnerships have addressed natural resource problems in watersheds throughout the United States for over sixty years. Increased public interest, awareness, and participation in conservation issues since the 1960s have added to the complexity of successfully addressing conservation issues. Conservation partnerships often involve public agencies, private organizations, and private land owners who have interests in, concerns with, and/or jurisdiction over land and natural resources. This report is a summary of recent research (Toupal, 1997) that investigated indicators of success in watershed partnerships. Topics addressed include: (1) the development of a success model; (2) a comparison of the model with three case study projects led by the U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), conservation districts (CDs), or Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) councils; (3) a guide for developing successful conservation partnerships; and (4) a method for combining qualitative and quantitative measures of success in order to assess partnerships. Indicators of success in conservation partnerships from around the world were found in such fields of study as natural resource management, environmental science, environmental politics, sociology, and rural sociology. The conservation partnerships discussed in these sources shared many common features including involvement of public and private interests, concerns with water quality and erosion, and geographic areas of concern at the watershed or subwatershed scale.