We have learnt a number of important lessons from invasive plant management projects that have been attempted in the Pacific. These lessons have significantly influenced the development of this Resource Kit. Invasive plant teams (e.g. decision makers, project managers, officers and field crews) should consider these principles as they move through the process and ask how they can apply them to their projects.
Engage with Stakeholders from the start
Stakeholder support is key to project success. Involving the right people at the right time in the project will build support and ownership amongst people and organisations that have an interest in the project.
See Stakeholder Engagement section for more information
Seek independent advice
Projects are all about establishing networks, learning from others and sharing experiences. Even the most experienced people need help with some aspect of every project. Involving experienced people right from the start allows you to take advantage of knowledge that has been gained in other projects and reduces the chances of making mistakes later on.
Using independent experts to review plans and provide advice throughout the project will help ensure you are making the right decisions and allow you to learn from the experts. Many implementing agencies in the Pacific will not have staff with the complete range of skills and resources required for each project. You must be prepared to go and find any missing skills from others.
Stage-by-stage planning of every aspect of the project increases the chances of success because it involves considering all of the resources that you need for a project and sets out how you will get them, when you will need them and who will be responsible for them. It also allows you to identify issues and anticipate problems early on and put in place measures to deal with them. Good planning is not something that can be rushed or done at the last minute. Experience has shown that many projects that fail have done so due to insufficient planning and preparation.
The implementing agency must take responsibility
The implementing agency must take full ownership and responsibility and show leadership for the project from start to finish. This involves complete commitment to the planning and resources required (including the allocation of enough time to do the work and enough money to finish the project).
Experience has shown that where this does not happen, problems arise (e.g. team members’ time is diverted to other projects, essential work is either not done or done at the last minute) and the chances of failure increase. The time required from each team member must be formally endorsed by the implementing agency.
Keep your eye on changes that may affect feasibility
As major decisions are made in the planning and preparation for a project, the project manager must remember to continue to verify that the project remains feasible. Some changes made late in the planning process may mean that significant changes are needed in the approach if the project is to remain feasible. Without ongoing checking of project feasibility you run the danger of attempting a project that has major risks of failure.
See Feasibility Study section for more details
Implement Biosecurity measures as early as possible
Operations are only the first step. If the benefits of invasive species management are to be long lasting then you must protect against further invasions. Biosecurity must be part of both eradication and control operations
See Biosecurity section for more details
Monitor outcomes to demonstrate success
Collecting information before and after operations will allow you to demonstrate the benefits of your project.
See Monitoring section for more details
Start easy and grow with experience
If this is your first project, consider starting with a small project and slowly increase the size and complexity as you build capacity and confidence. Your first project could be on a small site, with one invasive species, simple logistics and no major risks. It will provide a better basis to build your skills and capacity to do this work as opposed to your first project being a large, remote site with a number of invasive species and many issues to resolve.
Allocate sufficient time for developing capacity and sharing lessons
Each project will create new lessons and knowledge. Build into the project time to reflect and distribute lessons learned, both amongst the team and to the wider invasive species management community. You also need to make sure that the least experienced team members are given the opportunity to use the project as training so that the capacity of your organization can grow.
Every project builds on knowledge gained from previous projects and much of this knowledge is gained through learning-by-doing. The most effective way of learning how to do something is to be actively involved in doing it. Actively encourage your team members and stakeholders to be involved. It’s a great way to build a team and educate and inform people about the benefits of projects. Involvement helps develop the knowledge and skills for future projects.