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Conservation Planning

Welcome to the New Hampshire NRCS web page for conservation planning. Here, you will be able to learn all about the processes of smart planning and how it can work for you and your land.

What you can find here

What is Conservation Planning?Conservation Planning in Action

Conservation planning involves more than considering individual resources. It focuses on the natural systems and ecological processes that sustain the resources. The planner strives to balance natural resource issues with economics and social needs.

The conservation planning process helps achieve the following goals:
  • Help protect, conserve, and enhance natural resources
  • Design alternatives that meet local resource quality criteria for identified resource issues
  • Include the consideration of human concerns toward achieving sustainable agriculture
  • Consider the effects of planned actions on interrelated geographical areas (i.e. within a watershed, within an aquifer, etc.)
  • Consider and explain the interaction between biological communities and society
  • Focus on ecological principles
  • Assist with development of plans, regardless of scale, which will help achieve the client's and society's objectives
  • Identify where knowledge, science, and technology need to be advanced


The Origins of Conservation Planning Hugh Hammond Bennett trading card image.

Even back in 1947, Hugh Hammond Bennett had been promoting the principles of conservation planning in his text, Elements of Soil Conservation. According to Bennett, an effective conservation planner must adhere to the following principles:  

  • Consider the needs and capabilities of each acre within the plan
  • Consider the client's facilities, machinery, and economic situation
  • Incorporate the client's willingness to try new practices
  • Consider the land's relationship to the entire farm, ranch, or watershed
  • Ensure the conservationist's presence out on the land 


At NRCS we still follow Bennett's guidance to do the best possible conservation plan for the land and the client.

Conservation Planning (NRCS Course Modules 1-5)
The purpose of the course is to prepare the participant to be able to independently apply the NRCS planning process, and to utilize supporting technology, in order to assist clients in making decisions resulting in conservation plans that protect, conserve, and enhance natural resources and meet the client's needs. This training has been revised in a cooperative effort between the Conservation Operations Division, National Headquarters and the National Employee Development Center.  For more information, connect to the course overview.

National Planning Procedures Handbook
Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation planning process documentation.


  • Design alternatives that meet local resource quality criteria for identified resource issues.