Environmental Monitoring

Environmental Monitoring

This site can only be a source of information, and until you know why you are doing the program and what you want out of it, you wont know what is going to be useful for you. This page is for you to think about the "why"s and the "what"s before you get into details.

When you know all the answers you have probably done the hardest part of setting up a good program. If you can't answer these questions up front the footnotes will help you, but trying to answer them first will key you in to stuff you might want to focus on and the preliminaries that only you can supply

No one pretends that this is easy (but it is not impossible, can be fun, and provides lots of opportunities for learning!):

  • The world is complex and often unpredictable;
  • We will never know enough to be certain about anything important;
  • Resources are limited;
  • The loudest voices often have the least understanding (which is why they are so loud?);
  • The answer, whatever it is, was wanted yesterday;
  • Expediency often demands being seen to be doing something regardless of the outcomes
  • Everyone is concerned about the environment until there is a price to pay;
  • Etc etc.

Remember that a small, well-designed program will always be better than a big ineffective one. As the old saying has it: "its not how big it is, its how you use it". Take your time to make sure that you get started in the right direction and be adaptable as you learn from the program. Get results that you can use, and then use them.

Some questions that need answers

Try to answer the question before using the link to the footnote:

  1. Who are you doing this for? (Who owns the project? Who is interested in the outcomes?)
  2. Why are you concerned about the environment? (What evidence do you have already to identify the issues of concern? Also, what assumptions,models etc do you base your concerns on?)
  3. Why do you want to carry out an environment sampling program?
  4. Have you consulted the community about their concerns?
  5. Why will this (or any) monitoring program help improve environmental or other outcomes?
  6. Can you draw a diagram of the situation of concern and how your program fits in?
  7. How will you know the program has been successful?
  8. What will you do with the answer?
  9. What will you measure, and why will it help address the issues of concern to you?
  10. How will you incorporate the precautionary principle?
  11. How will you choose sampling sites, times, frequencies etc?
  12. Can you afford the program you need? If not, what can you afford that is worth doing?
  13. How will you know you can trust the results?
  14. How will you analyse the results?
  15. How will you communicate the results?

Once you have thought about the questions above you might like to look at the principles for monitoring. These can seem a bit daunting straight off but once you know what you want, then it is a matter of working through them so they work for you.

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