A gap analysis does not produce a precise plan, but rather a set of options that must be reconciled with other wants and needs. A good gap analysis will outline the priorities to be addressed and suggestions for action. Identification of priorities involves a number of different assessment steps:
- Pressures and threats: to existing protected areas and unprotected ecosystems – to identify urgent action and threats to the protected area network. Many threat assessment methodologies exist.
- Opportunities for new protected areas: some places may already be proposed protected areas or have a designation that could be converted into full protection status. Some community areas may be suitable as protected areas if supported by local stakeholders
- Other opportunities for effective protection: some gaps may be better filled by other sympathetic management than by creating protected areas in places where they are resisted or difficult to achieve.
- Capacity to implement an expanded protected area network: big plans are pointless without the capacity to make them happen. The CBD calls for national capacity assessment sfor managing protected area systems, including finance, resources, legal and policy framework, partners and skills