Integrated conservation and development projects (ICDPs) are common place in the field of biodiversity conservation. However, there is little evidence in the wider literature on the successes of these projects, with failure attributed to a range of factors, including a bias on either conservation or development, weak assumptions and limited monitoring and evaluation. In this paper, we evaluate an ICDP in the North Rupununi district of Guyana. Using a systems viability approach, we show how assessing the project and the nested systems within which it is operating reveals numerous human and institutional capacity issues which could have been managed better if highlighted at the project development stage. We conclude with the proposal that a systems viability approach to ICDP development, monitoring and evaluation encourages greater learning and adaptive management processes for increasing the long-term impact of ICDPs.