Using the example of surface water management we will show how decision theory concepts can be applied to conservation projects. The standardized procedure we propose will make the decision process of any such project very transparent and focused.
In Switzerland we are currently in the starting phase of applying this decision theory based concept to lake management. In a first step, the concept is used to design the monitoring program (define the objectives and create an objective hierarchy, define the attributes required for a lake assessment, and develop field methods accordingly). In a second step, after data collection, each objective will be evaluated. Several objectives can be aggregated so that in the end the state of the overall objective (e.g. natural state of a lake) can be evaluated. Based on the known state of the lake, conservation managers will then be able to use this tool to plan necessary measures. Through simulation they can test how different measures will affect certain objectives and whether the change will be positive.
This tool will allow conservation managers to make informed decisions based on current expert knowledge and therefore to invest funds available to them wisely.