Pillar 2 – Planning: Whole of Life Plan

Quick tips:

  • A Whole of Life Plan represents the core planning document to guide implementation of a demonstration reach project and should be prepared in the early stages to maximise its value, particularly to managers.
  • It is recommended that such plans include the minimum requirements identified within this guide.

All demonstration reach projects need a Whole of Life or Implementation Plan early in the development process. This primary document brings all the relevant information together, setting the foundation for implementation of all project activities. This plan provides the background to the demonstration reach, describing its location, boundary, land tenure, assets and threats. It places the project within the broader environmental context, and specifies relevant associated programs and initiatives. It also describes the vision, management objectives, interventions and timing of actions, priorities and budgets.  Overall, the document justifies the demonstration reach project, integrating and documenting what needs to happen.

While such a plan covers the whole life of the project, it is an evolving document that requires ongoing revision, as knowledge gaps are filled with the results of the implementation and monitoring of interventions. Whole of Life plans should specifically incorporate the guiding principle of adaptive management, where ongoing monitoring of system responses to management actions help inform the implementation of actions so that they can be modified as required. They can also build on the results of other associated programs as they are implemented.

Whole of Life Plans are very useful for managers with primary responsibility for the demonstration reach, as having a clearly articulated strategy allows them to pursue further funding for specific activities from a broad range of potential investors.

Although Whole of Life Plans provide substantial detail for a demonstration reach project, they should be seen in conjunction with other associated plans such as Communication and Engagement Plans and Monitoring and Evaluation Plans.

While the content, format and level of detail provided within Whole of Life Plans are likely to vary according to the situation and the needs of the managing agency, it is recommended that they contain the following information as a minimum:

  • Demonstration reach name
  • Lead agency and primary contacts
  • Other partners (this list will grow as the project progresses)
  • Management and governance arrangements (i.e. steering committees, advisory groups etc.)
  • Background
    • Locality
    • Land tenure
    • Description of the reach
    • Assets (i.e. description of fish community present including conservation status, community values
    • e.g. recreational fishing, other recreation activities etc.)
    • Threats and stressors
    • Links to relevant plans, strategies, programs and initiatives
  • Vision for the reach
  • Management objectives and actions, including priorities
  • Interventions to be undertaken including time frame and by whom
  • Budget requirements, current and potential sources of funding


The existing demonstration reaches developed a variety of documents, broadly known as Whole of Life Plans or Implementation Plans. While they varied in their detail and structure, they all provided overarching plans that gave a strong and lasting foundation to achieve demonstration reach objectives.