Improving biodiversity monitoring

Effective biodiversity monitoring is critical to effective conservation practice. Well conceived, designed and implemented monitoring of biodiversity should: (i) deliver information on trends;

(ii) provide early warning of problems that might otherwise be difficult or expensive to reverse;
(iii) generate quantifiable evidence of conservation successes and failures;
(iv) highlight ways to make management more effective; and
(v) provide information on return on conservation investment.

The importance of effective biodiversity monitoring is widely acknowledged yet, while everyone thinks biodiversity monitoring is a good idea, this has not translated into a culture of sound biodiversity monitoring (or widespread use of monitoring data).
The experts who carried out this review identify four barriers to more effective biodiversity monitorin:

(i) many conservation programmes have poorly articulated objectives against which it is difficult to measure progress;
(ii) the case for long-term and sustained biodiversity monitoring is often poorly developed and/or articulated;
(iii) there is often a lack of appropriate institutional support and targeted funding for biodiversity monitoring; and
(iv) there is often a lack of appropriate standards to guide monitoring activities and make data available.

To deal with these issues, they suggest that policy makers, resource managers and scientists better and more explicitly articulate the objectives of biodiversity monitoring and better demonstrate the case for greater investments. There is an urgent need for improved institutional support for biodiversity monitoring in Australia, for improved monitoring standards, and for improved archiving of, and access to, monitoring data.

More info: David Lindenmayer

Lindenmayer DB, P Gibbons, M Bourke, M Burgman et al. (2012). Improving biodiversity monitoring. Austral Ecology 37: 285–294.

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