The quality of decision making by environmental managers may be enhanced by the use of formal decision frameworks to assist with the development and evaluation of prospective projects. Various decision tools and frameworks have been used in biodiversity conservation (Examples include Assets, Threats and Solvability (ATS); Conservation Action Planning (CAP); multicriteria andscape assessment and optimisation (MULBO); and benefit : cost analysis (BCA)). However, following extensive experience working with environmental organisations to help them assess their priorities, David Pannell and colleagues judged that none of the existing tools provided an ideal combination of usability, rigour and comprehensiveness. None assist environmental organisations to undertake the full range of tasks that are essential for investment planning. These tasks include initial project identification, development of well costed and logically consistent environmental projects for public funding and prioritisation of the available projects. None of the available tools includes the capacity to analyse the choice of delivery mechanisms to be used in the project, which was identified as an important weakness in many existing programs.

To meet these gaps, David Pannell’s team developed the Investment Framework for Environmental Resources (INFFER). It is intended to help investors improve the delivery of benefits from programs that aim to protect or enhance particular environmental assets. It is a tool that allows users to prioritise among competing projects on the basis of the benefits and costs of each project. It also assists with the development and design of projects, and with the selection of delivery mechanisms. INFFER is designed to maximise the learning from experience that should occur in these programs.

In the development of INFFER, close attention was paid to its usability, acceptability and usefulness to users, and its theoretical rigour. The purpose of this paper in Wildlife Research is to describe how and why INFFER was designed the way it was, covering both practical and theoretical aspects.


Pannell D, AM Roberts, G Park & J Alexander (2013). Designing a practical and rigorous framework for comprehensive evaluation and prioritisation of environmental projects. Wildlife Research 40: 126-133. Editor’s note: For a very readable and engaging discussion of the perils and pitfalls of ranking environmental projects, see David Pannell’s blog ‘Pannell Discussions’. David has just completed a 20 part series on this topic (a summary of which we include in the next issue of Decision Point). This article in Wildlife Research is one of the underpinning papers to this series. The whole series is available as a download at http://purl.umn.edu/156482

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