Strategy Tables

In this context, a ”strategy” is a logically consistent set of individual actions combined to create a comprehensive policy response. Usually there are several categories of possible management actions, and creating a strategy involves selecting one or more actions from each category and combining them to create a comprehensive strategy, normally with a recognizable theme or approach.

A strategy table is a logical and convenient way of describing the definition of alternatives in terms of specific selections made from various categories of actions.

Consider the recovery planning process for a species at risk. A comprehensive recovery plan may encompass several categories of actions:

  • Habitat protection
  • Predator control
  • Recreational access management
  • Reproductive enhancement
  • Monitoring

For each of these categories, we can create a shopping list of candidate actions to choose from. (click to enlarge)

strategy-table1 (1)

Now there are a multitude of possible combinations, but not all of them logically go together, or alternatively, some may need to be done in concert. In the above case for example, translocating animals without concurrent predator control would not likely be considered. Depending on the decision context, it is usually useful to define 2-8 logical combinations or strategies.

In the example shown below, three strategies are developed for recovery of a species at risk. The first two explore different strategies for maintaining the existing population. The first (red) is largely the status quo, with more intensive monitoring. The second (blue) involves increasing the harvest of predators thought to threaten the population. The third strategy (purple) aims at increasing the herd size up to the carrying capacity of the region, involving both protection of threatened habitat, and implementation of a captive breeding program. (click to enlarge)


These strategies provide a good starting point. Subsequent modeling should facilitate a helpful learning process from both a technical basis (what would better achieve the objectives) and a value-basis (which solutions offer the most desirable balance of outcomes).

Key Ideas

  • Sometimes alternatives can be described in terms of specific selections from various management categories. An alternative is a single, specific combination of options from each category
  • Strategy tables can be a very quick and clear way of developing distinct alternatives in a group setting