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The 5s Framework

The 5 - S Framework of Site Conservation Planning, a structured Conservation Project Management process conceptual model developed by the Nature Conservancy (TNC), was adopted by the MPT in developing the Conservation Plan for FMU 10.

The 5 - S framework helps to systematically focus conservation action on priority biodiversity and critical threats in a dynamic, adaptive process involving setting the geographic and threat priorities, developing strategies, taking action, and measuring the conservation impact (TNC 2000).

5sThis framework allows for a participatory planning process involving partners and stakeholders. The dynamics in the subsequent planning process using the 5 - S Framework could be summarised as follows:
  • Systems
  • Stresses
  • Sources of Stress
  • Strategies
  • Success Measures
Systems are the conservation targets and supporting ecological processes that will be the focus for site conservation planning and measuring conservation success. Targets include species that are endangered, declining, rare or of special concern, major groupings of species, ecological communities or groupings of co-occurring species, and ecological systems (TNC 2000).
The selection process typically starts with ecological systems and communities, and then the process adds species that have a particular value in representing biodiversity or sensitivity to threats at the project, such as wide-ranging, indicator, keystone, or umbrella species. The viability assessment begins with identifying key ecological attributes for each element, that is, the critical component of its life history, physical or biological processes, composition, structure, or the spatial and temporal scales of distribution.

Next, viability indicators are selected; these are measurable entities used to assess the status of key ecological attributes. Finally, indicator-rating categories are developed. These are criteria that objectively define an indicator as one of four categories corresponding to poor, fair, good, and very good viability status.

Once targets are identified, viability of each target occurrence is assessed according to three criteria: size, condition, and landscape context. Size reflects the area or abundance of the occurrence. Condition is a measure that integrates composition, structure and biotic interactions of a particular target. Landscape context is an integrated measure of the dominant environmental regimes (e.g. fire, flood) and the availability of the habitats and resources necessary for long-term sustainability of the conservation target.

Adopting the above guidelines, the MPCT decided to select eight (8) conservation targets. These targets comprised of three (3) ecological systems, viz, the Hill mixed Dipterocarp Forest (HMDF), the Lower Montane Forest (LMF) and the summit scrub (SS); and five (5) species of which two (2) were floral species (Rafflesia keithii and Nepenthes x trusmadiensis), one (1) each from the insect species (Rajah Brooke Birdwings), the avian fauna species (Hornbills) and the aquatic fauna species (serawi fish). This selection took some three (3) months to be finalised.

Stresses and their Sources

Stresses are the types of destruction or degradation affecting conservation targets and reducing their viability (TNC 2000). The damage may occur directly to a target, or indirectly to an ecological process important to sustaining the target.

Sources of stress are the causes or agents of destruction or degradation (TNC 2000).
These are the human activities, typically uses of land, water or other natural resources, which cause stresses. Each stress has at least one source and stresses often have multiple sources. The logical approach is to focus upon those proximate sources of stress that can be abated with practical strategies. Some sources of stress are ongoing or "active"; others may be historical. The assessment of systems, stresses, and sources of stress leads to a listing of critical threats for a conservation area (TNC 2003).These threats are therefore a combination of a source and the stress it causes to a system.

Critical threats are those with the greatest impact upon the system. The most critical threats are identified through a process of identifying and ranking the extent and severity of the stresses and the sources of stress. In using this method to identify and rank critical threats, the highest-ranked threats to a particular focal biodiversity element could be determined and the highest-ranked threats at a conservation area across all elements could also be identified. Identification of stresses and their sources by the planning teams resulted in finalising five (5) major threats for FMU 10. These are forest fires, encroachments, rubbish dumping by visitors along the climbing trials and the summit, illegal poaching of flora and fauna and illegal logging.

Based on the identified critical threats, the MPCT had developed 12 relevant conservation strategies for FMU 10. These strategies were the broad action paths necessary to abate critical threats and enhance the viability of conservation targets. These strategies had two broad objectives as follows (TNC 2001):
  • Threat abatement: These strategies would eliminate active sources of stress thereby reducing subsequent stress in the conserving the targets and increasing their conservation viability.
  • Ecological Management and Restoration: These strategies would directly eliminate stress affecting the targets and thereby enhancing the viability of conserving these targets.
The chosen strategies, therefore, were conservation activities deployed to abate on-going sources of stress (threat abatement) and persistent historical stresses (restoration). This step involved setting objectives, selecting strategic actions, and implementing an action plan for the conservation area (TNC 2003). In selecting the 18 conservation strategies, the MPCT had hoped they would fulfil the objectives of either abating or eliminating the conservation threats in FMU 10. Developing these strategies alone took more than three (3) months of the efforts of the MPCT and RP during the planning sessions.

Success Measures

The conservation success at a conservation area is defines as the long-term abatement of critical threats and the sustained maintenance or enhancement of biodiversity health (TNC 2000). Two (2) success measures were used in FMU 10. These were the monitoring of the biodiversity health and the threat level for FMU 10. The biodiversity health monitoring would quantify the impact of implementing the strategies on the overall viability of the various conservation targets at FMU 10.

The threat status monitoring on the other hand would quantify the impact in reducing or eliminating the magnitude of the critical threats.



Tracking changes in the status of threats and focal biological elements through careful measurements of conservation progress allows for the assessment of the effectiveness of individual conservation strategies and maintains the adaptive management of the conservation actions (TNC 2000).

After deliberations that also took some three (3) months of efforts from various planning teams efforts, a total of 33 monitoring activities were developed for FMU 10.


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