Introduction to INFFER
INFFER assists decision makers to assess and rank environmental/natural resource projects, comparing aspects such as value for money, degrees of confidence in technical information and the likelihood of achieving stated goals. The development of INFFER was motivated by a belief that we could achieve a lot more with the available resources if they were allocated well. Everyone involved in protecting the environment wants to make the best use of the money that is available,but the issues are complex, and it is difficult to tell what would be “best”.
INFFER aims to help people determine whether the environmental/natural resource projects they are investing in will deliver tangible results within budget; whether the tools and technical capacity needed to attain those results will be available to the project; and whether the people who need to come on board to make it happen will be there when the time comes for action.
How it’s applied
INFFER focuses on assets – specific areas of the natural environment that are considered to have high value from a public perspective. They could be rivers, wetlands, areas of coastal dune, bushland remnants, threatened plants, endangered animals or areas of land – so long as their physical location can be described, INFFER can be used to develop and evaluate projects to conserve, manage or repair them.
INFFER is a comprehensive tool – all the necessary documents (manuals, templates, examples, FAQs, etc.) are freely available on the INFFER website (external link). The seven-step process begins with identifying valuable assets, followed by project development, project assessment, project selection and finally monitoring, evaluation and adaptive management.
It includes an on-line Project Assessment Form, where users capture information about the asset, the threats it faces, the goals that the project will achieve, and the actions needed to achieve those goals. Judgements about the likelihood of success in terms of technical feasibility and community and government support are also made and recorded here, as well as the proposed project budget. These information collected is used to calculate a Cost:Benefit Index that provides insight into the value for money that the proposed project will deliver.
Along the way, practical support is provided, such as the Public:Private Benefits Framework, which helps determine the best type of delivery mechanism to use for the project, including positive incentive mechanisms, negative incentives, extension, technology development and informed inaction.
When it should be used
INFFER can be used to establish priorities for internal funds or to prepare proposals for external funds. The process could be undertaken each year to assist with the development of action plans, or less frequently, to develop an overall investment plan or strategy for the region. Government funding priorities tend to change depending on financial, political and environmental contexts. INFFER users can develop a stock of of ‘ready to go’ projects. allowing rapid responses to funding opportunities with short time frames.