Monitoring is a key component of many environmental management programs. Monitoring has two main functions – it both points the way to improvements in management, and it shows stake-holders and decision-makers what progress is being made. Monitoring may include compliance monitoring (were the proposed actions carried out as planned?), and effectiveness monitoring (were the results the ones that were predicted?).
The role of science in monitoring
Monitoring is often technical (e.g. specifics of water quality, flow rate, population trends, etc.) but it must also be designed to provide practical information for managers and interested parties. So monitoring must provide useful information: accurate and statistically valid, but at the same time crafted to meet decision-makers needs. Monitoring may involve scientifically sophisticated design and analysis, at the same time as reporting for non-technical audiences on findings (and of costs and benefits).
The RESOLVE approach to monitoring
Monitoring is sometimes ignored or carried out in such a way that it has limited use to decision-makers. It is also often left to scientists to design, implement and explain. We believe that these two facts are linked. Good monitoring programs will be best designed with input and participation by decision-makers and interested parties. Fully participatory and co-operative planning of monitoring, and advance consideration of what possible outcomes will be, will result in good management. It will avoid situations where, after expensive monitoring efforts, scientists report to managers: “we need more research to answer your questions”.
RESOLVE staff have worked directly with decision-makers in regulatory agencies and affected landowners to design Spotted Owl and other wildlife monitoring programs. These programs have specific management triggers in response to possible future outcomes. These management level demands then fed directly into the statistical design of the actual monitoring protocols. In this way, all parties (including the general public) were assured of high quality, technically adequate, and above all else useful monitoring efforts.