Approaches to Performance Measurement in Protected Area Management - Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service 2002


A report prepared for the National Parks and Protected Area Management Committee
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, 2002

About this document

This is one of a series of "Benchmarking and Best Practice" reports sponsored by the Committee on National Park and Protected Area Management, which falls within the committee network supporting the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council (and previously, the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council). This benchmarking and best practice program seeks to actively share knowledge and information that may be adapted to achieve superior performance in member agencies.

Measuring the effectiveness of protected area management has been a focus of attention for some time. The business of protected area management does not operate within a production-line environment with tangible inputs, outputs and outcomes. Rather many outcomes are quite challenging to measure and report.

Approaches adopted by park management agencies in Australia and New Zealand, coupled with examples from around the world, are identified and reviewed. Primary survey data was obtained in December 2000 from 72 projects with a secondary survey conducted of 29 projects, supported by several focus group processes.

The logical integration of all performance measurement programs and activities conducted within an agency is a critical element of best practice and a simple model for progressing this objective is put forward. Integrated performance measurement frameworks are discussed and comparatively analysed in the report. Recent initiatives based on the development of "State of the parks" reporting are offered as a sound direction forward.

A range of eleven strategic principles and a further twelve project principles are defined and provide the building blocks for a sound performance measurement system.

Nine major functional themes that are component parts of the business of protected area management are identified. Within each of these themes, the array of performance indicators that have been employed by agencies to measure performance are outlined and discussed.

'Best practice tips' are annotated throughout the report to highlight key signposts toward the achievement of highly effective performance management systems for protected area management agencies and a section is devoted to the 'characteristics of good practice' based on some learnings identified whilst conducting this review.

A diversity of approaches to performance measurement was found and these are comparatively reviewed in this report. Although some agencies have expended considerable energy in attempting to identify a standardised process for measuring management performance, this is still at an early stage of development.

The nature of public sector agencies themselves and the diversity of organisational characteristics, socio-political and administrative environments and related organisational drivers are not trivial matters in searching out optimal performance measurement regimes. Variations in scale, scope and objectives characterise the breadth of current approaches to the measurement of performance. There is no panacea, nor is this necessarily a prudent goal at this stage of the maturation of this discipline.