Species Project Evaluation Criteria

Time on the Ground 


General information about evaluating the time a species project has been on the ground can be found in the Project Start Date section. Although individual project Scoring Rubrics should be consulted for specific requirements, generally species projects require a full breeding season. It is important to note that the time periods associated with breeding seasons vary by species and location, so Scoring Rubrics do not provide a specific amount of time. Reviewers use their professional knowledge to assess if the duration has been sufficient to provide conservation value. As a result, a full year is recommended to ensure sufficient time on the ground.

Locally Appropriate 


General information about how to determine if a specific species is native to the region is provided in the Locally Appropriate section. With the exception of the Invasive Species project type, all other species projects are determined to be locally appropriate if the targeted species are native to the region. Targeting of any native species designates a project as locally appropriate so inclusion of a non-native species (e.g. honey bees) in a list of targeted species does not negate other native species that are listed. The project can still earn points for the work done to address native species if information and documentation for the native species is included throughout the project (i.e., habitat needs, monitoring, etc. are all addressed for the native species). 

For the Invasive Species project type, the locally appropriate criterion is reversed. If an Invasive Species project targets non-native/invasive species, it is locally appropriate.

Habitat Needs Addressed 

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Documentation required
Species projects must address at least one habitat or life cycle need for the targeted species to ensure sufficient resources are available.  This criterion is evaluated by looking at what habitat/life cycle needs are being addressed: Breeding or Nesting, Foraging, Hibernating or Wintering, Migratory Stopover, Movement Corridor, Shelter, Water and Other. "Other” habitat or life cycle needs beyond those provided in the application can be included in the application but can’t duplicate needs that are mentioned elsewhere in the list (e.g. food sources can’t be added if foraging is already checked off). 

To earn points for habitat needs being addressed, the habitat/life cycle needs must be appropriate to support the species’ natural habitat and life cycle needs and be valid for the region.  A program located in an area where the targeted species do not winter can’t earn credit for providing wintering habitat for the species. 

Habitat/life cycle needs do not need to be added if they are already available in the area. For example, an existing pond can address the water need for deer (provided it is accessible and banks are not too steep for access etc.)

Documentation that generally supports the description of the habitat needs being met must be uploaded to earn points. 

Design Considerations 

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Documentation required
The considerations taken into account when adding features for a species play a significant role in the value the features will provide. To earn points for this criterion, the application asks for a description of any design considerations and to upload documentation of the considerations. 

Points will not be awarded if none of the design considerations relate to the targeted species (e.g. installation of a bee block in an avian project) or if design decisions are likely to be harmful (e.g. steep banks in a created wetland/waterbody). Design considerations that are relevant and generally good but with some errors (such as installation of nest boxes without predator guards) can earn points. The maximum points are awarded if multiple considerations are described (such as considerations for suitable placement and orientation of a nest box as well as design features such as predator guards, access for monitoring, etc. of the structure itself) and all of the considerations are valid and provide value. 

Supporting documentation must be provided to earn points for this criterion. Examples of documentation might include technical plans for structures, seed mixes for plantings targeting the species, or photographs illustrating implementation of the design considerations.   

Species Management

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Documentation required
Species management varies by project type. Each project Scoring Rubric outlines the specific considerations for that type of species. Although the specific management considerations vary between project types, generally more regular or frequent management will earn more points. Additional points can be awarded for implementing best practices via Adaptive Management. 

Population Management   


Population management techniques, such as reintroduction, relocation, and sustainable hunting, are sometimes used to enhance the health of specific populations or the diversity of the species overall. Population management measures such as these are taken after assessing a population of the species and typically are done in conjunction with a partner. This level of population management is uncommon among applicants. 

This criterion recognizes population management efforts designed to accomplish specific goals (such as increasing genetic diversity or improving health by reducing overconsumption of resources). Generalized population “support” efforts, such as habitat conservation or enhancement or the creation of nesting structures, are not recognized under this criterion as they are recognized elsewhere in the review.  

The applications asks to select relevant population management techniques (if any) and to describe the measures being taken. Documentation of a management plan can be uploaded if applicable but is not necessary to earn points.

Specific Threat to the Species

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Applicant understanding
In addition to widespread threats impacting biodiversity (such as habitat loss), some species or groups of species face other, more specific, threats. Examples of wide-spread but specific threats include White Nose Syndrome (a deadly disease impacting multiple species of bats in the eastern United States) and window strikes (hundreds of millions of birds are killed in the United States after colliding with windows). Actively managing specific threats is uncommon among applicants.

Actions to target these specific threats can play an important role in conservation. In order to earn points for this criterion, the specific threat must be listed in the application and a description of the actions being taken to address the threat should be included. Considerations to address general threats, such as providing habitat components or supporting populations, are not recognized through this criterion as they are recognized elsewhere in the review. 

Baseline Data

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Documentation required
See the Baseline Data section for habitat projects. Species project baseline data is generally focused on the species, rather than the habitat.

Monitoring Protocol

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Applicant understanding
See the Monitoring Protocol section for habitat projects. A species monitoring protocol is relevant if it would inform assessment of the species (instead of the habitat).

Monitoring Implementation 

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Documentation required
See the Monitoring Implementation section for habitat projects. Indirect monitoring not of the species directly, but of associated factors, can earn points if the associated factors are specific to the targeted species (i.e., host plants for the species). Strong monitoring of species involves monitoring the species and this more direct monitoring will earn more points.

Evaluation of Monitoring


See the Evaluation of Monitoring section for habitat projects.

Connectivity

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Applicant understanding
Connectivity of species’ habitats and coordinated management of species provide additional conservation value. Refer to specific Scoring Rubrics for details on how connectivity is assessed for each project type.

This may involve different habitat types (e.g., connectivity for a species that utilizes both forest and grassland habitats could be a forest habitat connecting with an adjacent property’s grassland habitat). For some project types coordinated management of the target species with adjacent properties can earn more points. 
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