Stuart Cowell

Stuart Cowell



Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement (MERI), or ‘closing the loop’, is a term we are hearing and using more and more in our projects.

In simple terms, once you’ve developed your plan and put it into action, MERI asks – “Is it working?”.

Often getting a ‘bad wrap’, the process is very important for successful long-term outcomes. It’s like taking your car to a mechanic to give it a ‘check up’ and keep it serviced, to make sure it’s working properly now and will keep working into the future.

Conservation Management are working with many groups, including Wunambal Gaambera and Yawuru in the Kimberley, Territory Natural Resources Management (TNRM), and the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC), among others, to support their ‘check ups’.

Recently we have been holding workshops with Karajarri rangers, who are using their Healthy Country Plan for Karajarri country, Board members, and supporting organisations, to review their plan. With them we have been looking at how they have gone with their strategies, checking up on their indicators, and that what they are doing is lined up with what their plan says. From there we can see where there has been success, and talk about what might need to change in the future.

Over a couple of workshops, the MERI team reviewed and rated all of their strategies to build a picture of their progress, with a good result that many things were ‘on-track’ and only a few needed to be thought about. Now we are working on answering the longer-term questions about the health of their country, and changes to problems they are facing. This takes longer, and needs good supporting systems.

An important part of the process, therefore, is to then create a MERI ‘plan’ – a guide that the ranger team can use to run through the process themselves over the coming years, and keep their plan ‘tuned up’. We are also working with Environmental Systems Solutions (ESS) to create better tools to link the plan, workplan, and monitoring needed for the MERI process.

The Karajarri team in the IPA classroom with partners Stuart Cowell (Conservation Management) and Glen MacLaren from ESS

Taking a break at Gourdon Bay

Saddle Hill in Karajarri Country – part of the MERI plan is to protect and manage country like this.

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